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My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz

My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz

4.6 9
by Livia Bitton-Jackson, Livia Bitton-Jackson

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After liberation from Auschwitz, fourteen-year-old Elli, her brother, and their mother attempt to rebuild their lives in Czechoslovakia. But it doesn't take long for Elli to realize that even though the war is over, anti-Semitism is not, so she and her family decide to escape to America along with thousands of other Jews. Little do they know what agonies and


After liberation from Auschwitz, fourteen-year-old Elli, her brother, and their mother attempt to rebuild their lives in Czechoslovakia. But it doesn't take long for Elli to realize that even though the war is over, anti-Semitism is not, so she and her family decide to escape to America along with thousands of other Jews. Little do they know what agonies and adventures await them still.
Elli's memoir of her experiences after Auschwitz will captivate readers as they follow her through heartache, frustration, adventure, excitement, love, and ultimately, triumph.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bitton-Jackson continues the memoir begun so searchingly in I Have Lived a Thousand Years. Now 14 and a survivor of Auschwitz, she returns with her mother and older brother to their once-Hungarian town in what has become Czechoslovakia. There they learn of her father's death; they find their house plundered, friendly-seeming neighbors reluctant to return their possessions and the local school, once a haven to Elli (as she is called here) completely re-staffed by the Communists. Readers will be awed at the bewildering maze of decisions facing Elli and her family. Should she apply for a visa to the U.S. or travel illegally to Palestine, as she, a member of an underground organization, is helping other Jews to do? When Elli and her brother get American visas, the family decides that her brother will go alone and try to expedite a visa for their mother. But years pass before they are reunited, and as the Americans close their embassy in Czechoslovakia, Elli dreams up and executes a breathtakingly daring escape for herself and her mother. It seems never to have occurred to Elli not to be brave; only once or twice does she express her agony at what she has witnessed in Auschwitz, and she resolutely works to make life better for those around her as well as her family. Bitton-Jackson's prose is not as fresh as in her previous book, and in some ways she is less personal, observing more and revealing herself less directly. But her story is utterly involving, and adds an important chapter to the ongoing attempt to understand the Holocaust and its consequences. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
Publishers Weekly
The author continues her memoir, begun in I Have Lived a Thousand Years, at age 14 as a survivor of Auschwitz. PW called her story "utterly involving. The volume adds an important chapter to the ongoing attempt to understand the Holocaust and its consequences." Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
At fourteen, Livia, called Elli, and her mother and brother returned to their home in country that she no longer knows. She chose to go back to school, but there, even the language was no longer hers. Their house had been stripped even of its windows, and most of their neighbors denied keeping the furniture or clothing that had been entrusted to them for "safekeeping." The little family slowly became accustomed to life under a Communist government as DPs, Displaced People. But Elli discovered within herself a tremendous thirst for knowledge and a gift for languages. While witing to emigrate, she helps Jewish orphans and manages to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Her mother had assumed that when the family finally reached America they would open a dress shop, but Elli had other plans. This is a wonderful story for anyone, not just for young people. The highly recommended sequel to I Have Lived a Thousand Years.
ALAN Review
My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz is just as the title implies--a moving account a heroic family's attempt to rebuild a life after suffering at the hands of the Nazis. The story focuses on one young girl, Elli, who through her diligence and bravery leads her and her mother to find a new home in the United States. The struggle is not easy. First, Elli and her mother must survive difficult living conditions in the Slovakian mountains, all the while trying to secure a spot on the United States Emigration List. Eventually, Elli and her mother are able to emigrate--but not without Elli's enduring the hardship of adolescence--winning and losing at love; coming to terms with her identity; arguing with parents and authority alike; both suffer the agony of a brutal life force from the outside, a force that is intent on destroying human dignity. This book, a sequel to Livia Bitton-Jackon's I Have Lived A Thousand Years, is an excellent sourcebook for learning about the realities of life after World War II. Genre: History. 1999, Simon and Schuster, Ages 12 up, $17.00. Reviewer: Mary Annelle Baker
VOYA - Victoria Yablonsky
Bitton-Jackson has written a worthy sequel to her Holocaust memoir I Have Lived a Thousand Years (Simon & Schuster, 1997/VOYA June 1997). Beginning the story in 1945 after her liberation from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, Bitton-Jackson, then known as Elli Friedmann, relates the story of her family's years of struggle and attempts to emigrate to America. Elli and her mother and brother were among only thirty-six out of their town's more than five hundred Jewish citizens to return after the war. At age fourteen, Elli faced experiences and responsibilities beyond her years before finally reaching America in 1951. Her persistence in attaining her goals is exhibited through her efforts to return some stability to her family's life while seeking freedom from the memories of WWII and the post-war Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia. She pursues her education, becomes a teacher, works as a guide for the underground network helping Jews escape from Eastern Europe to Palestine, and also grows as a young woman awakening to feelings of first love. She eventually engineers her mother's and her own escape from behind the Iron Curtain, using her language skills to ease their journey through Displaced Persons Camps and achieve a reunion with her brother in New York. Bitton-Jackson's descriptive writing details the horrors of post-World War II Europe, while also effectively portraying an inner conflict over her yearning to go to Israel and her wish to keep her family together in hopes of a better future in America. Her sensitive nature extends this sequel beyond her Holocaust memoir to a coming-of-age story, albeit one of extraordinary events in extraordinary times, that should appeal to many teen readers. Glossary. Chronology. Appendix. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-This touching memoir, the sequel to I Have Lived a Thousand Years (S & S, 1997), covers the years between the end of the war in 1945 through the author's emigration from Europe to the United States in 1951. These years were filled with many things for Elli, as she was then known. Chief among them was her desire to learn as much as she could about her Jewish heritage and her commitment to it. Part of this dedication was the work she did for the Briha, an organization that helped transport refugees to Israel. She also became a teacher and found a new identity as a learned young woman. Elli felt very strongly about joining the pioneers in Israel but her mother was not up to the physical challenge of moving to the developing nation. Instead, they escaped from Czechoslovakia into Austria and eventually Germany to await departure to join Elli's brother in America. The young woman's story recounts a time in her life that was filled with both anxiety and hope, tears and joy. More than the simple account of a Holocaust survivor and the often terrible postwar years in Europe, this book is also the tale of a young woman discovering who she is and how she wants to spend the remainder of her life-something to which every young adult can relate. A fine conclusion to Bitton-Jackson's autobiography of her youth.-Carol Fazioli, The Brearley School, New York City, NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a sequel to the well-received I Have Lived a Thousand Years (1997, not reviewed), Bitton-Jackson writes of her life as Elli Friedmann in 1945, when she, her brother, and mother were liberated from Auschwitz and sent back to their former home in Czechoslovakia. Finding only a shell of the place they had known, they struggled to rebuild some semblance of life and waited for the return of Elli's father. When they realized he was gone for good, their only hope through all their efforts was the prospect of obtaining papers that would allow them to emigrate to America. Through the long years that they waited, Elli found work teaching, and helping other Jews escape to Palestine, a dangerous and illegal undertaking. When they finally arrived in New York City, relatives welcomed them; an epilogue collapses most of the author's adult life into a few paragraphs so readers will know the directions her life took. Interesting and inspiring, this story makes painfully clear how the fight to survive extended well beyond the war years; the discomforts and obstacles the author faced and articulates in such riveting detail will make readers squirm at the security and ease of their own lives. (Memoir. 12-14) .

Product Details

Simon Pulse
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Product dimensions:
6.98(w) x 10.92(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Friedmann in Czechoslovakia, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to Auschwitz. They were liberated in 1945 and came to the United States on a refugee boat in 1951. She received a PhD in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University. Dr. Bitton-Jackson has been a professor of history at City University of New York for thirty-seven years. Her previous books include Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust, which received the Christopher Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, and the Jewish Heritage Award. Dr. Bitton-Jackson lives in Israel with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

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My Bridges of Hope 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"My Bridges of Hope"  is a captivating story on how a young girl had learned to endure on her own the tragedies life has to offer. Every page has a different account on everything she had to gain on her own by balancing both her studies and her difficult decision to leave her homeland. She goes in to a good amount of detail explaining her experiences having being liberated from the German camps.It’s definitely a great book to read because Jackson adds a little of her own language into her autobiography giving it a better sense of imagery and intensity. Overall it’s an excellent book for both young and older readers and I’m sure many would learn to enjoy it’s realistic feature to it.  
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Bridges of Hope by Livia Bitton-Jackson was a novel of tragedies and hope. The book was about a teenage girl named Elli, her brother Bubi, and their mother. They were a small family that lived in what they called a 'tatterstall'. This was a communal home of the survival Jews. There were only a few survivors (thirty-six out of five hundred) in their town that came back to live. This family lived in Czechoslovakia. They returned there to live after the war with Hitler. The family had been in a concentration camp for the Jews. They were actually in the worst concentration camp known during this time, Auschwitz. Throughout the story Elli reminisces on her times at Auschwitz and shows the horror she and her family had to endure to survive the war. When the end of the war finally came and they were liberated they thought they could start over in their town of survivors who shared their experiences and within the family of the 'tatterstall'. That was not the case for this family, they soon saw that anti-Semitism was no where near over. Elli was still discriminated everywhere she went. In school, she faced many challenges trying to escape the fate of the German children. The family just wanted a life of peace and happiness. All the Jews wanted a place they could go and not be hated. So, like many of the survivors the family went to America. The only problem was the family faced many challenges on the way there. If Elli hadn't have had such a strong will and desire I don't think the family would have made it past the Iron Curtain to keep the Jews in. The family had to always be on guard and there were no rest times. They were always being chased or threatened by capture. For this family there was never a time to stop. Elli tells about the hardships they faced throughout the war and their journey to America through this novel. The book was fantastic and helps people know what these people did go through in the time of Hitler. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'My Bridges of Hope,' by Livia Britton-Jackson, is an amazing account of a young girl named Ellie Friedmann who survived the concentration camp, Auschwitz, and tried to resume a ¿normal¿ life. Ellie¿s story began just after the U.S. Liberated Auschwitz when she returned to her homeland, Czechoslovakia. Ellie¿s mother and brother both accompanied her on the journey however, Ellie¿s father did not survive. Once back home the harsh Russian control and anti-Semitism persuaded them to head for America in search of freedom, love, and a new life. Along the way the family overcame many struggles including financial hardships, danger, personal loss, and dealing with their past. There were many prevalent messages within the pages of this tale such as love, dealing with loss, and persevering through tough times. Although Ellie grew up during a harsh time she experienced an abundance of love from newly found friendships and her family. Some of the friendships turned into romance, but each relationship ended abruptly when someone left in search of someplace better. While these two themes were important the biggest was never giving up even in exacting times. Ellie never abandoned her hopes or dreams when moments seemed unbearable or arduous. She always pressed on trying to overcome the hardships that she faced teaching that no obstacle is too severe to conquer. Overall I absolutely loved this book. It was nerve-racking, moving, and inspiring. The story line was not the typical depressing holocaust story. It showed triumph and a will to rise above all daunting challenges that Ellie faced. I also enjoyed it because there was never a dull picture that needed an imagination¿s improvement. Vivid imagery was painted onto each and every page. The story was very intriguing since it contained love, action and drama. Each time Ellie found a potential love it drew me in even closer because I wanted to find out if she would ever find true lasting love. This book was one in which you could not put down because the anticipation would eat at you until you started to read again. I only had a few dislikes, but the biggest was that when a new chapter began, sometimes there was not a smooth transition from the previous chapter. Since some new chapters skipped lengths of time after the preceding chapter this got a little confusing, but it was very minor since after a few paragraphs you were back on track. I believe that everyone should read this book at least once in his or her lifetime. I was a little pessimistic when I began reading since sometimes non-fiction is mind numbing, but this book defies all stereo types. It is so inspirational because any obstacle that I face or have faced cannot be compared to what Ellie underwent and it gives me no excuse to give up. It also gives a person a new perspective and more insight into how lucky they truly are.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is an emotional book, it tells you about life after the holocaust, which is very unique it makes this book stand out. EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this book cover and thought it looked good so I read the back and that sounded good so I bought the book and I'm glad I did its like the best book ever. It takes place after WW2 and Elli,her mother,and her brother are reunited. They decide to never be seperated again but they do but I won't tell you if its good or bad and what happens. You deffenitly shoud read this book! I haven't read the first book I have Lived A thousand Years but I intend to. Anyways I deffinitly think you should read this book. I'm sure this book is just as good as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can someone tell me how the sample is?