Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: Once We Were Brothers

Once We Were BrothersAuthor: Ronald H. Balson
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust.

Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser is convinced he is right and engages attorney Catherine Lockhart to bring Rosenzweig to justice. Solomon persuades attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that the true Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's own family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has Solomon accused the right man?

Once We Were Brothers is Ronald H. Balson's compelling tale of two boys and a family who struggle to survive in war-torn Poland, and a young love that struggles to endure the unspeakable cruelty of the Holocaust. Two lives, two worlds, and sixty years converge in an explosive race to redemption that makes for a moving and powerful tale of love, survival, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit.

Everything in our world seemed to be influenced by what was going on in Germany, and everyone we knew was trying to keep abreast of the news.

“Two weeks later, before the sun rises on Friday, September 1, 1939, a million and a half German troops cross the Polish border in the most, ferocious, deadly attack ever known to man.”

“Once we were brothers,” said Ben sadly.

This book begins with Elliott Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, held at gunpoint by a man named Ben Solomon who is also holding him at gunpoint. Once the commotion is put to rest Elliott’s charges are denounced, but Ben just knows that his is right in accusing Elliott of supporting and being a part of the Nazi regime. Ben goes on to hire attorney, Catherine Lockhart, in the hopes of bringing Rosenzweig to justice. Ben claims that Elliott is really Otto Piatek, a child his family raised, who later betrayed his family and turned them over to the Nazis. This is a story of survival, love lost, hatred, hurt, and strength!

I enjoyed this book simply for its historical context. Sometimes it is nice to read Holocaust books just to remind myself how good I really have it, and what happens in a world where evil is cast out and goodness is broken down. This story is so powerful, especially seeing a man who survived the Holocaust still holding onto many of his pent up feelings and hatred after all that time. Holocaust survivors have a tendency to be some of the most strong, unfaltering people. Ben Solomon is an excellent example of both of those characteristics. The fight that he takes on in this book is riveting and absolutely breathtaking. He already survived the Holocaust, but he will not rest until justice has been served for him and his family.

This book brings forth so many powerful, strong emotions. Listening to the story of Ben and Otto was so gripping and really made me cling to each page. The story was told is such wonderful detail and with such strong imagery and imagination. A Holocaust formed friendship is not something you read in books every day, but it makes a wonderful concept and is fledged out quite nicely in this book. Many emotions rushed over while reading this book, and I am just preparing you all as well! Holocaust reads are some of my favorite, but prepare yourself because you made need some tissue!

***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at St. Martin’s Griffin in exchange for my honest review***

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