Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review: ‘Broken Birds, The Story of My Momila’ by Jeannette Katzir

The difficulty with reviewing memoires is that you are basically reviewing someone’s life.  The author is actually a character in the story.  The other characters are their loved ones.  For that reason, I’m going to try to separate out the personal and try to review this solely on its merits as a book. 

Broken Birds is a family drama revolving around two Holocaust survivors who emigrate to the U.S. and raise their family of five.  The beginning of the book tells the interesting story of Channa & Nathan’s childhoods and war time experiences.  While Channa and her brother were living as outlaws in the forests of Poland, Nathan endured the horrors of the concentrations camps.  After the Nazi defeat, their families were gone and they each sought out new lives in New York City, where they met and fell in love.

This portion of the book was incredibly interesting.  I especially liked Channa’s story, because I didn’t know much about the Partisans, a group of Jews who hid from the Nazi’s and committed acts of sabotage on the Nazi infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the other 85% of the book revolves around an endless stream of family bickering.  The characters keep repeating that the only people you can trust is family, yet these people continuously screw each other over.  The worst part is that none of them learn from their mistakes, and continue entering into business deals with each other.  I’ve heard the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.  If that is the case, all of these people are insane! 

The worst occurs when the mother dies and her will has to go to probate.  This miserable woman, whom for some reason the narrator idolizes, tears her family apart with her grossly unfair final wishes.  First, Channa completely cuts her husband Nathan out.  He worked his whole adult life for this woman, and trusted her to handle the family finances, only to have her leave him penniless.  Then comes the properties.  Channa and Nathan owned two homes, the one they lived in and a rental property.  She ends up leaving one home to her five children in an even split.  The other property she leaves solely to her son Steven.  This sets off a long, drawn out squabble between the siblings where they all act like super greedy five-year-olds.  Honestly, I hated them all by the end.  In fact, I saw the book as just another way for the author to try and win people to her side in this childish argument. 

One other note… This is a self-published book on Kindle, and the author has it priced at $9.95.  This is grossly over-priced!  (I got my copy free in exchange for an honest review.)  The author might want to re-evaluate this.

Overall, I give Broken Birds

Plot – 2 bookmarks
Characters development – 1 bookmark
Historical information – 4 bookmarks (I would have liked the parent’s experiences during the war to be fleshed out and expanded.  It was really the most interesting part of the story.)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Honestly, I have nothing.  I didn’t care about any of these people enough to think about it.)

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