"Moving back and forth deftly over a sixty-year period, Only by Blood compellingly recreates the experience of two Polish families first trying to survive the Second World War and then suffering the unforeseen consequences of that survival. Krakauer's novel is at once a lyrical testament to the power of love and an exciting page-turner, as full of twists and turns as any true-crime novel."--Susan Glickman, poet and author of The Violin Lover and The Tale Teller"Only by Blood is another remarkable testament to a lost generation. In this vivid, moving and remarkable novel, Renate Krakauer captures what it means for families to be displaced, or to be torn asunder, the parts never to meet again, to lose all dignity, self-respect and self-regard and indeed, in many cases, to lose our most precious possession: life itself. Krakauer's novel joins the many on this heavy but hopeful shelf of stories--hopeful because, without them, history is bound to repeat itself."-- Joe Kertes, author of Gratitude and The Afterlife of Stars"Set partly in Poland and partly in Canada, Only by Blood is a Holocaust story of survival and secrets, broken families, broken hearts. It's a familiar tale made new by the particular dramas of Krakauer's characters. This is a novel to be savoured for its seriousness and depth of feeling."--Cynthia Holz, author of Benevolence"Only by Blood begins during the Holocaust in Poland, and, at first, it feels like a familiar story we have read about before, but soon the novel moves into a compelling mystery which then broadens into questions of identity and moral complexity. What does it mean to love and can love be unjustified, bordering on the criminal? Only by Blood illuminates aspects of the fallout from WW2 that have remained insufficiently explored in literature and depicts them in a powerful narrative."--Antanas Sileika, author of Underground and Woman in Bronze"In Renata Krakauer's Only By Blood, trauma embeds itself across generations in the fabric of lives, whether family members are cognizant of the role the past plays or whether they can only intuit its effect. Krakauer unfolds her narrative on Polish and Canadian soil during World War II and decades after wards, fueled by the desire of the first generation to know and by the reticence of the survivors, both Polish Catholic and Jewish, to tell. As the truth is unveiled, this tug-and-pull, back-and-forth motion of the narrative moves deftly across the pages for the reader.At the core of the novel lives Roza, the character most fully fleshed out through her harrowing ordeals as a young Jewish woman in hiding and through Krakauer's sensitive and credible depiction of Roza as a widow enduring the physical and mental assaults of aging. As the novel runs its tragic and near-redeeming course, we discover how the fates of Roza, her two daughters, Helen and Mania, and the two Polish Catholic sisters, Irena and Kyrstyna intertwine as they piece together fragments of memory, move beyond cultural and religious antipathy and mistrust, and unearth secrets they have buried. While we empathically share in their lives across time, we witness the sacrifices of motherhood during war and the courage it takes to love. And here we are further reminded that such love does not come without formidable cost. Selfless and selfish acts under duress become blurred so that the reader is unable to pass judgment on the wartime mothers by the novel's end. In an early transitional scene, upon which the novel's plot will hinge, Krystyna lies on her deathbed calling out feebly to her daughter, Mania, to "find them....make it right." While Mania honors her mother's wishes and solves the mystery of her own heritage, no one and no action can compensate for the injustices inflicted upon these victims of war. Yet Krakauer gives voice to the void which would otherwise emanate if her characters had not discovered the genealogy and humanity they share. "-- Carol Lipszyc, author of The Saviour Shoes and Other Stories and Singing Me Home
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