By: Russel Lazega
Publication Date: February 2015
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: October 14, 2015
There is history and then there is a memoir. There is non-fiction, there is a story of war, a story of family—there are books covering all genres out there to enjoy. But there are very few books that supply “all of the above” in one brilliant package that keeps people up at night reading a journey that cannot possibly be copied. This, however, is one of those rarities.
Written by the grandson of a woman, who to some will feel almost supernatural, this book is sheer perfection. Bubbie is a woman who seemed to have Hitler’s ear; if not, she was almost psychic. She had the grit, tenacity and intelligence to “know” when things were about to go sour in a certain location she was living in, and always managed to escape – saving her children on numerous occasions right before Hitler’s horrible ‘disease’ invaded.
But understand this: Bubbie’s story is one of humor and wit. Bubbie (AKA: Lea) is a woman who actually had a life in America and came back to Europe because her husband chose to. She always wanted to return to the U.S.A. But, sometimes trapped in the life she was supposed to live that her own mother had chosen for her, and sometimes getting trapped by financial circumstances, Lea got lost along the way. Readers follow Lea’s journey from her home in Belgium to the ghettos of Poland; from Paris to La Cote d’azur France; and, all over Europe as it became wrapped in Nazi chaos. We see Lea work, struggle, and defy pain in order to win her own war so that landing back in America will no longer be a dream. But, above all, we laugh with her.
The writer was told by his bubbie to write down her tales, and he has done so with perfect emotion and wonderful wit. In between the chapters covering Bubbie’s WWII battles, there are chapters that relay talks between the writer and his bubbie. The text ranges from finding him a nice Jewish girl to marry to watching game shows on TV and seeing interesting conversations with his family play out. Colorful, fun language was had by all, and the lessons taught by this writer are not only respectful to his bubbie but also a learned experience for the reader. We are talking about sheer fun. Seems odd to say, considering the subject, but these conversations at home in Florida, where the war is very much over, brings about side-splitting laughter.
In the end, well...actually from the very beginning, readers will love Bubbie. This is a woman who wanted never to give up control of her life. She wanted not to be taken care of, even when age took over. She wanted to be able to live in her apartment and push her shopping cart all over town if she felt like it. And the author states quite clearly that, even though Bubbie may sound silly not wanting aid, she actually knew better than everyone else. She really did. After all, she had lived in and escaped hell over and over, while bringing three children into the world, and being able to stay in this life to see seven grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren arrive.
This is a book that remains on the bookshelf. It becomes one of those ‘beloved’ books that you go to over and over again for enjoyment. The only downside you’ll feel is that you did not get to shake Bubbie’s hand and listen to her stories in person. Because this is one soul, one incredibly funny spirit, everyone would have been blessed to meet.
Quill says: A book that is emotional, hysterical, historical, and a downright must-read. In a world that only allows 5 stars, Bubbie deserves a million. Oy!