The Takeaway Men
Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.
About The Takeaway Men
With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.
The Takeaway Men is a powerful novel following a family that has immigrated to the US after the horrors of WWII. We learn about the horrors of WWII, the affect on families both during and post WWII and the stressors of adjusting to a new culture and country.
Aron and Judy have an incredibly past – Judy was not born Jewish but fell in love with Aron and did everything she could to protect him from the Nazis. With Judy’s help, Aron escapes the Holocaust but loses so much including his immediate family. The two marry and give birth to twin girls in one of the camps in Europe before they leave for the US (such a blessing of life!). Both see the birth of the girls as a blessing and they know that they will do anything to protect their girls.
When the family moves to the US, they are met with a bit of a culture shock. Aron struggles with his own history and religion is followed differently in the US, something he is not used to. Judy has her own struggles as she was not born Jewish and is worried that people will find out and shun her and her daughters. She also hides her own family history, embarrassed and worried that this would change the way people think about her. The twin girls want nothing more than to fit in with their peers but they notice the difference – their clothes are different, their Father speaks with a thick accent and their peers tease them. Their parents have done everything they could to hide the war from them and what happened during the Holocaust, but they did so at the expense of not telling them anything about their family, the lives that were lost and their own experiences that have caused them trauma.
I very much enjoyed this novel, I cried and I laughed. My heart went out to these parents who wanted nothing but a fresh start for their girls but inadvertently cause a new set of problems. We also learn about the other characters in their lives, who have their own struggles post WWII. Each character has their own way of dealing with the past, denial, talking about it, hiding it, etc. It was a truly beautiful story of hope, love, and pushing forward that I could not put down.
About the Author
Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. The Takeaway Men is her debut novel. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal. She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator. The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York. Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren.
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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.