My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Yvette Manessis Corporan immediately strikes the reader as being the type of person who is well-connected, well-educated, and well-spoken, all while remaining humble and welcoming. Her life is fascinating in many aspects, and yet in another way it’s another beautiful example of the typical American story – descended from hard-working immigrants who are proud of their culture and yet thankful for the opportunities afforded them in the United States. As she sought to tell her family’s version of this tale, she stumbled across so many wonderful details and life lessons. In very easily read, almost conversational (dare I say it felt like an interview?) prose, Corporan weaves a tale that when viewed from afar would resemble the beautiful intricately woven clothing of the Greek people of Erikousa.
Yvette Manessis Corporan becomes obsessed with uncovering the details of a story told to her by her grandmother. It’s a story of courage, loyalty, and friendship across dangerous and age-old cultural divides. Yvette’s grandmother had been one of many villagers who daringly helped to conceal a Jewish family amidst their largely Christian (Greek Orthodox) community during WWII. There were knocks at the door almost every night, but they never knew who would be on the other side – Nazi soldiers out for blood, or the poor Jewish family they had befriended coming to teach sewing lessons while the children slept peacefully. As Corporan dug deeper, she found family members of the survivors and was able to orchestrate an elaborate but beautiful reunion between the Jewish descendants and the Greek islanders. Even as Corporan worked tirelessly on this reunion, her own extended family were brutally attacked, gunned down by a modern-day would-be Nazi who mistakenly thought they were Jewish. The stories flash back and forth as Corporan seeks to reconcile the two scenarios. This book is a beautiful journey through shared memories, beautiful cultures, and moving introspection.
This book is very well-written. It does bounce around a bit, and there are times where the author switches names back and forth as well. As long as you can keep up and not get distracted (I had no problems), this novel is a pleasure to read. I found no grammatical errors in this first reading.
I recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy books on personal journeys (such as “Eat, Pray, Love”) or historical reflection (such as books about Holocaust survivors).