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The Lucky One: A Memoir of Life, Loss and Survival in Eastern Europe

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Ita was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was the former Pale of Settlement which was a large swath of land in western Russia where Jews were forced to live for centuries. The year was 1918 and Russia was in the midst of two revolutions. The first occurred with the abdication of the last tsar of Russia culminating in his execution. The second was the blo Ita was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was the former Pale of Settlement which was a large swath of land in western Russia where Jews were forced to live for centuries. The year was 1918 and Russia was in the midst of two revolutions. The first occurred with the abdication of the last tsar of Russia culminating in his execution. The second was the bloody civil war that ensued for control of the country. Ita was caught in the middle during this time of great political and social upheaval. Wave after wave of murderous anti-Jewish riots, or pogroms, descended upon Jewish shtetls, and the only chance for her survival was to escape. Escape was not easy. In fact, it could be deadly. In Ita's own words, along with her daughter's (Sherry V. Ostroff) historical and cultural background information, she describes her privileged life in Russia, the bloody pogroms, and her harrowing escape. Ita faces each roadblock with resolve, including a new country that doesn't want her, and proves why she is, indeed, the lucky one.


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Ita was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was the former Pale of Settlement which was a large swath of land in western Russia where Jews were forced to live for centuries. The year was 1918 and Russia was in the midst of two revolutions. The first occurred with the abdication of the last tsar of Russia culminating in his execution. The second was the blo Ita was born in the wrong place at the wrong time. The place was the former Pale of Settlement which was a large swath of land in western Russia where Jews were forced to live for centuries. The year was 1918 and Russia was in the midst of two revolutions. The first occurred with the abdication of the last tsar of Russia culminating in his execution. The second was the bloody civil war that ensued for control of the country. Ita was caught in the middle during this time of great political and social upheaval. Wave after wave of murderous anti-Jewish riots, or pogroms, descended upon Jewish shtetls, and the only chance for her survival was to escape. Escape was not easy. In fact, it could be deadly. In Ita's own words, along with her daughter's (Sherry V. Ostroff) historical and cultural background information, she describes her privileged life in Russia, the bloody pogroms, and her harrowing escape. Ita faces each roadblock with resolve, including a new country that doesn't want her, and proves why she is, indeed, the lucky one.

32 review for The Lucky One: A Memoir of Life, Loss and Survival in Eastern Europe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeannette Dilouie

    This book is an amazing example of how strong people can be in the midst of utterly deplorable circumstances. Yet somehow, in the middle of all the horrible bigotry and pain and suffering mentioned in this book, that's not what really shines through in the end. I would say the most prominent takeaways in "The Lucky One" are a mother's love for her daughter and a daughter's love for her mom. I'd happily recommend this to anyone.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Robinov

    So many immigrant stories – each unique in their own fascinating way. Combining the actual words of her mother with personal memories and historical supplements, Sherry has created a beautiful biographical memoir. Not only was her mother "The Lucky One..." We are lucky that Sherry has chosen to weave and share this story with us.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Slowinski

    This is the second work I’ve read by Sherry V. Ostroff and want an incredible story of overcoming incredibly difficult odds. Sherry’s mother, Ita, tells her story of growing up in very dangerous circumstances in Russia where the political climate was incredibly unfriendly to the Jewish population, to say the least. She and her family were very fortunate to be able to escape to Romania for a time and ultimately to the United States. Interspersed between her mother’s memories, Ostroff provides a v This is the second work I’ve read by Sherry V. Ostroff and want an incredible story of overcoming incredibly difficult odds. Sherry’s mother, Ita, tells her story of growing up in very dangerous circumstances in Russia where the political climate was incredibly unfriendly to the Jewish population, to say the least. She and her family were very fortunate to be able to escape to Romania for a time and ultimately to the United States. Interspersed between her mother’s memories, Ostroff provides a very detailed history of the time her mother was living in. It’s an interesting contrast to read Ita’s story of her understanding of the world around her, through the eyes of an innocent young child versus the reality of the time. Stories like Ita’s are so important and need to be told. I applaud Ostroff for preserver her mother’s legacy in this work.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I do love anything historical. “The Lucky One” by Sherry V. Ostroff is the story of the history of her family, her mother’s life, to be exact. Her mother grew up in Eastern Europe and she and her family were forced to move around a lot for their own safety, though, because she was a young girl, she wasn’t fully aware of the dangers. She managed to have fun and enjoy her childhood the best she could in her circumstances. This is Sherry V. Ostroff’s first book, I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but I do love anything historical. “The Lucky One” by Sherry V. Ostroff is the story of the history of her family, her mother’s life, to be exact. Her mother grew up in Eastern Europe and she and her family were forced to move around a lot for their own safety, though, because she was a young girl, she wasn’t fully aware of the dangers. She managed to have fun and enjoy her childhood the best she could in her circumstances. This is Sherry V. Ostroff’s first book, and she did a wonderful job keeping her mother’s original stories and voice alive in this book. The story is divided into chapters written in Italics, which are the original stories by her mother, and Ms. Ostroff did a good job writing accompanying chapters further explaining the historical events that her mother mentioned or lived through, giving the reader a clear picture of her mother’s story. Sherry V. Ostroff chose to call the book, “The Lucky One” and refers to her mother as being “lucky” several times throughout the story. However, she also mentions that her mother did not consider herself “lucky”. After reading the account of Ita’s life, I would not call her “lucky” either. I would call her “blessed”. Surely the way Ita (Sherry’s mother) and her mother (Sherry’s grandmother) were able to stay one step ahead of death could only have been orchestrated by God. This story was a quick, easy read. It held my attention, and in some ways reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place”, though this story is not as detailed. If you like true, historical stories and stories about real people, I recommend that you read “The Lucky One” by Sherry V. Ostroff.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeffery Craig

    I fell in love with this book the minute I started the author's introduction. The combination of memoir and additive commentary was beautifully executed and the writer's wise, but easy style entertains, educates and welcomes the reader into a private family circle. At times rich with joy, at others filled with the harsh reality of the pograms of Russia and Eastern Europe, The Lucky One brings insight and perspective to this challenging time in history. Do yourself a favor, and read this book. Th I fell in love with this book the minute I started the author's introduction. The combination of memoir and additive commentary was beautifully executed and the writer's wise, but easy style entertains, educates and welcomes the reader into a private family circle. At times rich with joy, at others filled with the harsh reality of the pograms of Russia and Eastern Europe, The Lucky One brings insight and perspective to this challenging time in history. Do yourself a favor, and read this book. Then, recommend it to a friend who appreciates a great story told in an amazing format.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Told in Ita's own voice, this book shares the story of one Jewish child's life in Eastern Europe before WW2 and her immigration to America. After she tells her story, her daughter Sherry adds historical details about the culture and historical facts. I learned a lot about Jewish culture and life while reading this book and enjoyed the story. Highly recommend for anyone interested in WW2, Eastern Europe, Jewish life or the importance of telling family stories.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amy Shannon

    Amazing story. This story paints a picture of a true story, from the tales of the author's mother. It was written so it could be a record of family history. It's a fascinating story of Russian family life and emigration to American. The narrative is wondrous and very gripping. It brings to life customs and rituals. It grips at the heartstrings and shows the oppression and historical relevance of knowing the family's legacy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Hammerstein

    Author Sherry V. Ostroff has given readers a gift. She has written a moving story of her mother while conveying the joys and hardships of Jewish life in pre-Holocuast Eastern Europe. Sherry Ostroff has woven an intricate tapestry with two threads: her mother’s eyewitness account of life in the shtetl (Jewish village) and Ms. Ostroff’s rigorous and scholarly historical perspective. The Lucky One presents considerable information about Jewish history, such as Jewish migrations across Europe, Yiddi Author Sherry V. Ostroff has given readers a gift. She has written a moving story of her mother while conveying the joys and hardships of Jewish life in pre-Holocuast Eastern Europe. Sherry Ostroff has woven an intricate tapestry with two threads: her mother’s eyewitness account of life in the shtetl (Jewish village) and Ms. Ostroff’s rigorous and scholarly historical perspective. The Lucky One presents considerable information about Jewish history, such as Jewish migrations across Europe, Yiddish (language of Eastern Europe Jews based on German and Hebrews) and pogroms (attacks by Russian and Polish soldiers). The book describes how the Eastern European Jewish experience advanced Zionism, as the pogroms reinforced Jews’ need for a homeland for protection. The book refutes the false notion that the Jews were passive in the face of attacks. In fact, Jews organized into military self-defense units, giving a preview Israel’s military strength. Some readers might be surprised to learn how harsh life was for Eastern European Jews. They endured poverty as well as oppression. It is inspiring to read how the Jews adhered to their faith and traditions. It was difficult for Ms. Ostroff’s mother and grandmother to gain approval to immigrate to the U.S. from Romania. Ms. Ostroff describes the history of barriers that the U.S. imposed to limit immigration. This discussion provides a framework for the current immigration debate. Ms. Ostroff has preserved an episode of history for a culture that was nearly destroyed in the Holocaust. I commend her for this accomplishment. I treasure The Lucky One. I am sure other readers will as well.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Fine

    Sherry Ostroff''s memoir, THE LUCKY ONE, covers the history of how her grandmother and mother came to the freedom of America from the Pale of the Settlement in Russia. A harrowing, yet familiar story of ancestors surviving the czar, pogroms, "the expulsion of the Jewish menace," and forced conscription relate a menacing tale of survival. The points of view are of Ita, her grandmother, and the author's words that interpret the world of arranged marriages, shetls, religious rituals, the importance Sherry Ostroff''s memoir, THE LUCKY ONE, covers the history of how her grandmother and mother came to the freedom of America from the Pale of the Settlement in Russia. A harrowing, yet familiar story of ancestors surviving the czar, pogroms, "the expulsion of the Jewish menace," and forced conscription relate a menacing tale of survival. The points of view are of Ita, her grandmother, and the author's words that interpret the world of arranged marriages, shetls, religious rituals, the importance of synagogue life and traditional food preparation. With researched details the author utilizes maps, documents, recipes and photos to insert history into a compelling story of survival in Russia, Romania and America. Ita's words become so powerful when you understand the dangers she faced in a hostile environment, especially the intelligence needed to escape a pogrom, a frequent occurrence carried out by those in power as well as hooligans. The book is a primer of information for those who want to examine their own family history. The knowledgeable research reminds us that where we came from and how we got here, matters. I appreciated how often food from the heart was what soothed their souls. A triumph!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sandra McCarver

  12. 5 out of 5

    Priscilla

  13. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Snelson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Musclemeredithme.com

  15. 4 out of 5

    Fran Grafman

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne Hamilton

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phaedra221

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine Rosser

  19. 4 out of 5

    harris vernick

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janice Richardson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tehila

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan H.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Darci

  26. 4 out of 5

    Em

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Laliberte

  29. 4 out of 5

    KieraK

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Apgar

  31. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Rami Haught

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