Listening Well: Bringing Stories of Hope to Life

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781250276919. $29.99. MEMOIR
Morris’s (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) memoir discusses her philosophy of listening and explains how she researches her historical fiction. Growing up in rural New Zealand, Morris experienced an austere upbringing in which children were seen but not heard. Two exceptions were her father and great-grandfather, whose respectful conversations with Morris taught her how to listen. These skills served Morris well when she met Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew who survived the Holocaust and whose story she eventually retold in fiction. While most of the memoir is framed by Morris’s experiences interviewing and befriending Sokolov, she also relates the backstories behind her two other novels, both of which came from the remarkable stories of Holocaust survivors. Interspersed throughout the book are practical tips for listening, especially when talking to older people or children. A thoughtful and insightful exploration of how listening skills are important in everyday life as well as in historical research.
VERDICT Recommended for fans of Morris’s fiction and those who would like to improve their listening skills.
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