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Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie
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Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie

by Linda Pressman
 

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Written by a child of two Holocaust Survivors, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, tells a story of growing up with parents who have survived the unsurvivable, who land in Skokie, an idyllic northern suburb of Chicago, where they're suddenly free to live their lives, but find the past has arrived with them. In a book that's both funny and somber

Overview

Written by a child of two Holocaust Survivors, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, tells a story of growing up with parents who have survived the unsurvivable, who land in Skokie, an idyllic northern suburb of Chicago, where they're suddenly free to live their lives, but find the past has arrived with them. In a book that's both funny and somber, and a story universal in its scope, Linda Pressman creates an unforgettable portrait of adolescent angst and traumatized parents amid the suburban world of the 60s and 70s, ultimately finding that her parents' stories are her own.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this flawed but intriguing family memoir, Pressman describes growing up as the sixth of seven sisters born to Holocaust survivors living in Skokie, Ill., after WWII. Pressman is clearly a writer with a good ear for dialogue, but her coming-of-age stories about everyday life with her sisters—none of whom prove to be engaging characters—during the 1960s and 1970s are far less interesting than her memories of her parents. It is their stories—her mother spent the bulk of WWII hiding from the Nazis with her family in the woods of Lithuania, while her father was in Siberia—that readers will find riveting. Additionally, it is difficult to pin down Pressman’s attitude toward her parents. In the end, it appears she resents the choices they made in Skokie despite their struggles—and this diminishes the power of her story. Nonetheless, Pressman is a talented writer and this book is a testament to her parents’ truly indomitable will.
Kirkus Reviews

Humor and tragedy blend seamlessly in this memoir of childhood upbringing and family trauma.

The daughter of Holocaust survivors and one of seven sisters, Pressman recounts her youth in Skokie, Ill., and how it intermingles with her family history. Throughout her young life, she often derides her parents' obsession with their harrowing past, at one point scoffing that "Holocaust Judaism" has become their surrogate religion in place of more established movements of American Judaism. But as much as she tries to mold the haunting tales of her parents to her "happy ending template," or even ignore them altogether, these stories—and the lessons they tell—play a crucial role in her formative years. Interweaving various events across time, the memoir juxtaposes Pressman's angst at her ancestry's ineluctable grip with the pre-adolescent and teenage tribulations she experiences in her comfortable suburban milieu. These strands occasionally diverge too widely, causing some family anecdotes to feel arbitrary as much as they prove entertaining. Still, the poignancy of Pressman's voice and her meticulous attention to detail instill life into the characters and settings that surround her, as well as the ghosts of horrors past. This work separates itself from the ever-expanding memoir pool by emphasizing the universal aspects of deeply personal issues. Anyone with siblings can relate to the author's amusing descriptions of the complicated power dynamics among her sisters. Even if one has never met a Holocaust survivor, he or she can empathize with Pressman's attempts to grasp the weight of her parents' struggle to survive. The memoir doesn't unequivocally justify the actions or beliefs of any one character, but its overriding sense of pathos honors each person's way of dealing with triumph and defeat. Since it deals with issues of existence, this quality has never been more necessary.

A memoir whose heart pays considerable homage to its subjects.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781456470685
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
03/31/2012
Pages:
348
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
1 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Linda Pressman is the past Blog Editor for Poetica Magazine, a literary magazine devoted to expressions of contemporary Jewish thought. A freelance writer, her work has appeared in Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers; in Znine, the Literary Magazine of the University of Texas at Arlington; and in the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, as well as being anthologized in Mizmor L'David, a compilation of work of children of Holocaust Survivors. In addition to attending graduate school with a concentration in Medieval History, she holds a Master's Degree in English and has taught college as an adjunct. She blogs at Bar Mitzvahzilla and on Open Salon and lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and two children.

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