We Were Strangers Once

We Were Strangers Once

by Betsy Carter


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455571444
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 592,499
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

The daughter of German immigrants, Betsy Carter is the author of the novels Swim to Me, The Orange Blossom Special, and The Puzzle King, as well as her bestselling memoir, Nothing to Fall Back On. She is also the creator and editor of New York Woman Magazine, and has worked at many other magazines, including Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar and Esquire.

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We Were Strangers Once 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
AudioBook Review Stars: Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5 The real questions that are dealt with here are those faced by many immigrants: how to hold on to yourself and your culture while reinventing yourself in this new life, as someone ‘different’, and deal with the prejudices that are different from, yet ultimately similar to those you fled from? Carter takes us on life journeys from the baby steps that would lead to Nazi Germany, through emigration and relocation to New York, only to face challenges that again will reinforce their different-ness as they struggle to fit in. Less a story of the Holocaust than of the immigrant experience in 1930’s America, we are told the story through Egon’s point of view: his dismay and desires to leave Germany became a need with the passage of the Nuremburg Laws, stripping Jews of citizenship and generally making their lives impossible. He heads to New York, where he connects with old family friends he knew in Germany in a small immigrant neighborhood of Washington Heights. Sponsored in by his best friend and writer, Meyer, Egon’s story begins as we see the struggles with learning English, finding work (he ends up in a deli) and navigating the confusing and senseless discrimination that is both overt and covert, even within his own small community. A small group of these new immigrants meet regularly to discuss their lives, commiserate and speak of difficulties in navigating this new world. While Egon relies on these friends, and sees that nothing is particularly easy, he also sees that many of his new friends are also isolating themselves from truly trying to assimilate and adjust: comparisons to ‘what was’ instead of finding a new ‘what is’ are common themes, and when he brings an American born girl, daughter of Irish immigrants to their gathering, reviews are mixed. But there is a connection between Catrina and Egon that can’t be denied, and while the difficulties jump out at every corner in terms of their relationship, the connection helps Egon to take chances and find his own path to happiness and feeling more ‘American”. Truly a story of friendship, support and struggle, bringing issues not necessarily at the forefront of the immigration discussion: language barriers, non-recognition of educational credentials, the pace and cost of life, the need to have a support system of friends who are both similar in experience and different. A lovely, uplifting listen that brings an often unhead-from point of view to the discussion of immigration and differences. Narration for this story is provided by Suzanne Toren and she manages to present the story with a flair that, considering the characters were mostly male, felt natural and authentic. Her flair for accent, the ability to present moments with the appropriate emotions and the clarity of delivery all added to the auditory interest. Where one might expect anger at the situation, there was a controlled and almost ‘reined in’ tension to the speech, the tentative approach in new situations and the relief in the familiarity with friends meeting were all clearly recognizable and allowed me that ‘fly on the wall’ feeling. A lovely performance that perfectly complimented the text and provided an emotional element that I think was intended by the author in the writing of the story. As said in the dedication: “To Everyone from Somewhere Else”, and truly, we are all from somewhere else. I received an AudioBpok copy of the title from Hachette Audio
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
It took me a little while to get into this book. Even though Egon's parents are rich and famous, they are very strange. They don't really like people other than each other and that was fine by me. I felt really sorry for Egon. His mother included him in things, but after she died, he was pretty much on his own. This story takes place before and during the round up of the Jews. Egon and his friends saw it happening but could not believe that it could happen to them. They finally left Europe, Egon an ophthalmologist, and his friend, Meyer, was an author. When they got to America, both were neither of those. They were not citizens and their fame in Europe stayed there. I really enjoyed the story especially the articles that Meyer would write about his group of friends. I found it very interesting how long it took people to figure out what exactly was going on with the Jews. I guess because it was too horrific to believe. And, each character had their own feelings and thoughts about what was happening or not happening. I was kind of sad when the book ended, as I had to leave them. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.