Book Review: Saving What Remains

by Jessica Lawlor / Aug 30, 2009 / 0 comments

Book Review


Saving What Remains: A Holocaust survivor's journey home

Saving What Remains, A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey Home To Reclaim Her Ancestry by Livia Bitton-Jackson tells the true and heart wrenching tale of one woman’s struggle to satisfy her mother’s final wishes and to learn more about her history and background.

Livia grew up in Samorin, Czechoslovakia until she and her family were taken to Auschwitz. After surviving the war, Livia thought she would never see her homeland again, until her mother presented her with a difficult task. Livia’s mother informed her that she had recently learned that a new dam on the Danube River would flood the cemetery where Livia’s grandparent’s bodies were buried. Her mother asked her to exhume the bodies and bring them back to Israel where her mother resided so that her grandparents could finally rest in peace. Livia would have been happy to oblige, but one small problem was holding her back; Livia had a criminal record in Czechoslovakia for fleeing the country 30 years earlier.

Filled with dread, but also with a sense of hope and responsibility, Livia meticulously planned a trip that would require her to go back to the one place she never thought she’d see again.

Throughout her journey, Livia met old neighbors, family friends, relatives and forged bonds with customs officers and high ranking officials. Livia did anything and everything to complete her mother’s wish.

I finished this book in one day because I was so completely engrossed in Livia’s story. Though the book did not have one major conflict, small conflicts throughout the novel were enough to keep my attention.

Ms. Bitton-Jackson’s writing style was so beautiful and eloquent that it was impossible to put the book down. She was able to capture horrible situations like war and her time in a concentration camp, but it was never told in bitter tones. Ms. Bitton-Jackson accepted what happened to her, and made the best of the rest of her life.

As this is not the type of book I normally read, I was glad to learn new things about history (I never knew much about Communism and the Iron Curtain before) as well as learning about a life of someone extraordinary who would do anything to make her family happy.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history or the events that took place during the Holocaust. Even if you're not a huge history buff though, this book was a quick and easy read that will keep your interest without bearing too many historical facts.

Saving What Remains, A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey Home To Reclaim Her Ancestry
Livia Bitton-Jackson
The Lyons Press (August 4, 2009)