November 27, 2020
Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, WW11, Holocaust, Mental Health, Jewish, Self Help, Psychology
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Edith Eger and her family were taken to Auschwitz when Edith was sixteen. Her mother and father were killed shortly after they arrived. Edith and her sister survived. In this memoir, Edith recounts her experiences and her mental health journey. Her practice as a psychologist later in life focuses on PTSD. Edith weaves her own stories together with case studies from her practice to talk about healing, forgiveness, and freedom from the prison of the mind.
Memoir: First, I’m thrilled that Nonfiction November motivates me to read more nonfiction! I love memoir…especial non-celebrity memoirs! I especially love memoir that transcends the personal experience and offers something inspirational and challenging that readers can apply to their own lives. Even though The Choice is a difficult read at points, it is truly an HONOR to hear her story and the candid account of her journey back to mental health.
Structure: I love the structure that alternates between present and past and includes case studies which are so relatable. Just as the past becomes unbearable difficult, we switch to present day and gain a reprieve from the horrific events.
Themes: Along with poignant themes of survival, the journey to mental health, keeping the past a secret, and resilience, I love the theme of using your own experience to help others!
Related Reading: Even though there are a myriad of WW11 titles with similar themes, hearing from an actual person who survived is powerful. During the reading, I thought of Louis Zamperini in Unbroken and Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. I also thought of another recent memoir and self-help book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.
Quotes: I made note of several quotes I love that will give you a flavor of the memoir:
“Decades after my literal imprisonment had ended, I was still choosing not to be free. I had my secret, and my secret had me.”
“Freedom lies in learning to embrace what happened. Freedom means we muster the courage to dismantle the prison, brick by brick.”
“Suffering is universal. but victimhood is optional.”
“We become our own jailers when we choose the confines of the victim’s mind.”
“Survivors don’t have time to ask, ‘Why me?’ For survivors, the only relevant question is, ‘What now?’ “
“We can choose what the horror teaches us. To become bitter in our grief and fear. Hostile. Paralyzed. Or to hold on to the childlike part of us, the lively and curious part, the part that is innocent.”
“The words I heard inside my head made a tremendous difference in my ability to maintain hope.” …..these were the words in her head: “I lived today, I chant in my head. I survived today. Tomorrow I will be free.”
“In running from the past–from my fear–I didn’t find freedom. I made a cell of my dread and sealed the lock with silence.”
“We can’t choose to vanish the dark, but we can choose to kindle the light.”
“The truth is, we will have unpleasant experiences in our lives, we will make mistakes, we won’t always get what we want. This is part of being human. The problem–and the foundation of our persistent suffering–is the belief that discomfort, mistakes, disappointment signal something about our worth. The belief that unpleasant things in our lives are all we deserve.”
“Perfectionism is the belief that something is broken–you. so you dress up your brokenness with degrees, achievements, accolades, pieces of paper, none of which can fix what you think you are fixing. In trying to combat my low self-esteem, I was actually reinforcing my sense of unworthiness. In learning to offer my patients total love and acceptance, I fortunately learned the importance of offering the same to myself.”
“The only antidote to brokenness is the whole self. Maybe to heal isn’t to erase the scar, or even make the scar. To heal is to cherish the wound.”
“Our painful experiences aren’t a liability–they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.”
“I can’t heal you–or anyone–but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now. My precious, you can choose to be free.”
“Healing isn’t about recovery; it’s about discovery. Discovering hope in hopelessness, discovering an answer when there doesn’t seem to be one, discovering that it’s not what happens that matters–it’s what you do with it.”
Highly Recommended: How many times have I used the word Love in this review? There are not enough words to share the emotional impact of this candid and thoughtful memoir. It will have a place on my all time list of favorite memoirs. I’m enthusiastically recommending The Choice for readers who are looking for an exceptional, powerful, and unforgettable memoir; for those who appreciate stories from WW11 and want to honor survivor stories; for fans of self-help, and for book clubs. The Choice has so much to offer each of us! If Edith Eger can face her past, forgive Hitler, heal from trauma, and find freedom in her mind, it would benefit us to read and seriously consider her words!!
Thanks Nicki @ The Secret Library Book Blog for the recommendation (she also reports that it’s great on audio)!
Trigger Warnings/Content Considerations: WW11 concentration camp atrocities, PTSD, and other mental health challenges presented in counseling sessions.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Meet the Author, Dr. Edith Eva Eger
A native of Hungary, Edith Eva Eger was just a teenager in 1944 when she experienced one of the worst evils the human race has ever known. As a Jew living in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz, the heinous death camp. Her parents were sent to the gas chambers but Edith’s bravery kept her and her sister alive. Toward the end of the war Edith and other prisoners had been moved to Austria. On May 4, 1945 a young American soldier noticed her hand moving slightly amongst a number of dead bodies. He quickly summoned medical help and brought her back from the brink of death.
Dr. Eger is a prolific author and a member of several professional associations. She has a clinical practice in La Jolla, California and holds a faculty appointment at the University of California, San Diego. She has appeared on numerous television programs including CNN and the Oprah Winfrey Show; and was the primary subject of a holocaust documentary that appeared on Dutch National Television. She is frequently invited to speaking engagements throughout the United States and abroad.
Is The Choice on your TBR or have you read it?
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