Jumping Over the Shadows by Annette Gendler
Published by She Writes Press on April 4th 2017
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Family & Relationships, History, Holocaust, Love & Romance, Personal Memoirs
History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II–a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the time. Annette and Harry’s love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry’s family of Holocaust survivors. Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. As time went on, however, Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism–a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry’s family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family’s past.
I received this book, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir by Annette Gendler, from BookSparks in connection with their spring book tour, “It’s Raining Books”. Unfortunately for me, somehow this book and another one fell to the bottom of a pile of books I had already read and reviewed, and I never noticed it until I was cleaning the book cabinet to make room for more! While I missed the BookSparks’ tour, I still wanted to share the book with readers so they’d know they could run out and pick it up for themselves since it’s already out!
The book is a memoir written by Annette Gendler, who shares her story of falling in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. The interesting fact is that her great Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II. Her aunt’s marriage was a happy one but it was also tremendously difficult for their families when the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938. Their marriage did not survive the pressures of the time.
Then there’s Annette and her husband, Harry’s story – Annette was born in New Jersey to an American mother and a Czechoslovakian father. The family unit consisted of Annette and her siblings, and the family itself basically called themselves Catholic. In her early 20’s, she met Harry, who was an Orthodox Jew. They were burdened with their family histories so they actually kept their relationship a secret for three years so that they could create a new life for themselves in Chicago. They each knew that a marriage between them was more than likely to shake their families to the core. Harry’s family consisted of Holocaust survivors, so their marriage was a nightmare.
Annette shares the steps that she took, the growth in her learning, and how her exploration of Judaism and ultimately finding her “spiritual home” in Judaism, which was a choice for her and it also helped Harry’s family find acceptance for her.
In writing this memoir, Annette alternates between scenes between hers and Harry’s relationship and the problems involving her great Aunt Resi’s marriage. Jumping Over Shadows is filled with very clear and detailed descriptions of the places that Annette has visited or where she has lived.
If you like family histories and/or books about Jewish history/ancestry, or if you simply love a good love story, then this is a book you will really enjoy. It is well written and is flows well, which made it a rainy Saturday one sitting reading!
Annette Gendler is the author of Jumping Over Shadows, the memoir of a German-Jewish love that overcame the burdens of the past. Her writing and photography have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet Magazine, Bella Grace and Artful Blogging.
She served as the 2014–2015 writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois, and has been teaching memoir writing at StoryStudio Chicago since 2006. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.
Learn more and sign up for her newsletter at www.annettegendler.com
I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSparks as part of the “It’s Raining Books” Tour in exchange for this post. I was not required to post a positive review, but I chose to do so because I enjoyed the book! Thanks so much!