Thursday, 28 August 2014

Surviving Brigitte's Secrets by Saskia Tepe

Surviving Brigitte's Secrets: A Holocaust Survivor. Her Daughter. Two Traumatic Journeys is a fascinating and very moving book. It is the personal account of the daughter of a Holocaust survivor as she tries to understand her mother (the Brigitte of the title) and fill in the missing details of her life.

I first encountered author Saskia Tepe on Twitter and started reading her blog which introduced some of the background to the book.

I was shocked to learn that survivors and other displaced persons had to live in camps for so many years after World War Two had ended. I'd no idea that so many years elapsed before people were able to start re-building their lives.

In the book we are taken on Saskia's life journey from childhood to maturity and we learn of the impacts the Holocaust had on the children of survivors. In addition to the usual teenage angst, Saskia's life is made so much more complicated by feelings of protectiveness towards her mother and resentment caused by Brigitte's own experiences, disclosures and secretive evasion.

The book has been written in a direct and honest style. The author deals with some difficult issues without sentimentality. She explores and shares some intimate details of her life story and the impact of the complexity of her early years on the rest of her life. 

It's hard to say Surviving Brigitte's Secrets is an enjoyable read because at times it is so poignant and starkly open about some of Brigitte's and her daughter's experiences. However, it is a fascinating book: at times humorous, occasionally surprising and always very well written. I found it compelling and a book I was still thinking about several days after I finished reading it. Highly recommended.

More details of Surviving Brigitte's Secrets here on Saskia Tepe's Blog and here on her author page at Amazon.