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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of We Must Not Think of Ourselves by Lauren Grodstein

Grodstein tells a poignant, powerful story of the Warsaw Ghetto--of making a life within its prison walls and of finding resistance and even love in the face of despair.


My friend Suzanne recently suggested that I read this book despite my recent feelings that I'm maxed out on World War II-set novels, and I'm so glad she did!

As Lauren Grodstein's We Must Not Think of Ourselves begins, it's November 1940, and Adam Paskow is one of the thousands of Jews newly imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. He teaches English to children and adjusts to the shock of living in a flat with many other people--and understanding that this is his new reality.

He is soon approached by secret archivists set on recording the incredible, horrifying events that are occurring--but also the everyday stories of the people trying to survive in captivity, danger, and uncertainty. Would Adam be willing to help them gather the stories that shape so many lives?

The heart of this story was inspired by the real-life project aimed at preserving the testimonies of Jews in the Ghetto, code named Oneg Shabbat. Stories of various characters are interwoven through the historical fiction novel and add depth to the story.

Adam finds love in unlikely places, recalls his life, and finds ways to try to make a difference in the face of despair. Grodstein presents this incredibly difficult situation through various characters' attempts to accept impending doom, their wavering hope, and the incredibly powerful bonds they build to each other.

I listened to We Must Not Think of Ourselves as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Grodstein is also the author of Our Short History, The Explanation for Everything, and A Friend of the Family.

You can find many other World War II-set novels I've reviewed here.

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