Once We Were Home

Flatiron. Mar. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781250855541. $27.99. F
Rosner’s (The Yellow Bird Sings) moving story about identity, family, and the meaning of home explores the little-known story of the stolen children of World War II. Jewish parents fleeing the Nazis gave their children to non-Jewish families or hid them in convents or monasteries. Once the war was over, those who survived searched for their children, but the Catholic church had them baptized and refused to return them so that they could save their souls. Since most of the hidden children were very young, the families that hid them were the only families that they knew. Ana and Oskar lived on a farm in Poland where they tended livestock and grew herbs. Roger was in a French monastery. A gifted student, he sometimes got in trouble for questioning his teachers. Renata, originally from Germany, escaped with her mother and went to England. After the war, a Zionist organization brings Ana, Oscar, and Roger to Israel. They are unhappy about leaving the only homes that they knew, but they discover family on a kibbutz. Renata becomes an archaeologist and goes on a dig in Jerusalem.
VERDICT Readers familiar with The Yellow Bird Sings will learn more about the characters in that book here. An excellent addition to historical fiction collections.
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