Why this book?
Ann Szedlecki’s richly detailed memoir starts: “I am the daughter of nobody... Who am I? My past is gone, disappeared.” As a student in my writing class for seniors, her slightly-accented voice read out excerpts of her poignant manuscript. How do you remember all this, I used to ask. She would just smile sadly. Her story begins in pre-war Poland, showing us the loving family later destroyed. When the Nazis invade, Jews are beaten and killed at random in the streets. At fourteen, she and her older brother head east to the Soviet Union, ending up in Siberia. A gifted writer, she depicts the brutality of life in a labour camp but also the kindness of strangers; then the heartbreaking description of returning to Poland to find none of her family survived.