Delving into the extraordinary secrets that held her family together in a bond of silence for more than 40 years, the author recounts with heartbreaking clarity a remarkable tale of survival.Delving into the extraordinary secrets that held her family together in a bond of silence for more than 40 years, the author recounts with heartbreaking clarity a remarkable tale of survival.Read Less
Helen Freemont's memoir, After Long Silence, speaks far beyond the words on each page as she tells her story of learning that her parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors. Freemont recounts her story of discovering this truth when she was a young adult, having lived her entire childhood brought up as Catholic with no knowledge of her Jewish decent and extended family. Her story is a powerful lesson about the ways in which fear and shame can damage an individual and entire family. It also sheds light on the power of love and the effort people will make to protect those they love.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-01-04 Fremont's memoir is an incredible tale of survival, a beautiful love story and a suspenseful account of how the author's investigation of her roots shattered fiercely guarded family secrets. Raised Roman Catholic in a Michigan suburb, Fremont knew that her parents had been in concentration camps. Her Polish mother, Batya, was interned in Mussolini's Italy, and her Hungarian-born father, Kovik, was sentenced to life in the Siberian gulag. But her parents refused to talk about their past, and they never let on that they had been born Jews. Fremont, a Boston lawyer and public defender, and her sister, Lara, a psychiatrist, pieced together their parents' hidden past by examining archives and tracking down Holocaust survivors. As Batya and Kovik gradually opened up to discuss their ordeals, Fremont was able to reclaim her Jewish faith and to make sense of a childhood marked by panic attacks and a hyperactive fantasy life. She also divulged a secret of her own when, at the age of 35, she finally told her mother that she is a lesbian. The bombshell coming-out story is secondary to the harrowing account of her parents' traumas: Batya's escape from Nazi-occupied Poland only to be arrested on the Italian border; the bizarre marriage of Fremont's maternal aunt to a government official in Fascist Rome who helped secure Batya's release from an Italian concentration camp; Kovik's escape from Siberia after six years of hard labor and his 1947 reunion with his fiancée in Rome, where they married as Catholics; the couple's emigration to the U.S. in 1950. Though the story is at times emotionally overwhelming, Fremont writes with an admirable restraint that enables her to turn her parents' life, and her own, into a triumphant work of art. Author tour. (Feb.)
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