A woman unearths family secrets and gives voice to things unspoken in this poignant memoir that traces her parents’ escape from the Holocaust.
Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of. The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching.
So when Esther’s mother casually mentions an astonishing revelation—that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust—Esther resolves to find out who they were, and to learn how her father survived. Armed with only a black-and-white photo and hand-drawn map, she travels to Ukraine, determined to find the shtetl where her father hid during the war. What she finds not only reshapes her identity but gives her the opportunity to properly mourn.
I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is the riveting and deeply moving story not only of Esther’s journey but of four generations living in the shadow of the Holocaust. They are four generations of survivors, storytellers, and memory keepers, determined not just to keep the past alive but to imbue the present with life and more life.
Story Locale: WWII-era Western Ukraine, postwar Germany, Washington, D.C.