by Susan Branch
A 7-year-old is ripped from her home and sent to a concentration camp in the Ukraine. How will this affect her development and life?
There are two saving graces in young Erica Gelber's ordeal, if anything can be fortunate in her circumstances. First, the camp where she endured four years was a holding camp, not an extermination camp. Second, she was not separated from her handsome, intelligent father, her determined, inarticulate mother, and her older sister Dita. Living with her family gave her some stability, though it could not protect Erica from the daily sight of corpses being trucked past their window.
Readers will breathe a sigh of relief when the family is liberated, but their Rumanian home is no longer theirs, and they learn of the relatives they have lost, a poignant reminder of how slender a thread ensured their survival. Dita goes to Israel, where she marries, and the rest of the family follows.
For tiny Erica, life becomes a series of challenges that she's determined to meet. Convinced that her future lies in Israel, she must learn Hebrew (her mother tongue was German). She wants to learn to speak fluently, which she does, despite her lack of education during the critical years from the age of 7 to 11.
Called for military service, she tries to enlist in the Israeli Air Force, the most prestigious of the services, and is lucky enough to be accepted. Again, she survives her service, although some of her companions, including a young man who is her close friend, do not. She decides to remain a virgin until she's married, which is often a hard job in the rowdy barracks.
Instead of marrying immediately, as her parents want her to, Erica gets a well-paying job working with tourists coming to Israel. But she doesn't see her way clear, and decides that travel will help her decide where her path in life should go. And she can visit sister Dita, now living in California.
The story of Erica's eventual marriage, her drive to get the kind of education she wants, and her success in a business that both provides for her family and enables her to help others, is an exercise in overcoming obstacles. This new version of the American dream is inspiring, sometimes funny, but never tragic. Erica demonstrates how she is able to leave tragedy behind in the camp and keep a positive eye to the future.
Title - Thanks for My Journey: A Holocaust Survivor's Story of Living Fearlessly
Author: Dr. Erica Miller
Publisher: Emerald Book Co. (Jun. 1, 2012)
$11.66/paperback; $7.99/Kindle at amazon.com
About Dr. Erica Miller
With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, a master's in marriage and family, Miller established a number of mental health clinics in California which she continues to direct. She also runs a real estate management company with her husband in Austin, Texas. She previously wrote, From Trauma to Triumph.