The Girl Who Was Born That Way is the story of the Berk family, not exactly an ordinary Jewish family, trying to bury its Holocaust past while starting over in post-war USA. The novel centers on the dynamics between the family's four daughters, the two oldest girls who grew up in the Lodz Ghetto and he two youngest who came of age in an idyllic American suburb. The story is told from the perspective of the youngest child in the family, whose sisterly love and compassion drive the novel's action. Can her curiosity bring the family's dark Holocaust history into the open? Can she save her anorexic third sister whose short stature and physical anomalies are a source of family embarrassment and shame? The Girl Who Was Born That Way considers the life of immigrants living in the diaspora, the miracle of their survival and their helplessness when faced with the disabling condition of their third daughter.
Gail Benick is a professor in the humanities at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Oakville, Ontario. Her teaching and research focus on immigration, diaspora and storytelling. Her work has appeared in Jewish Fiction. Net and the Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, among other publications.
""Ultimately, in the 117 pages of The Girl Who Was Born That Way, Benick has compactly shown the complexities of migrating to a foreign land with few belongings and resources and many differences. She tells the story honestly, sensitively and with lots of heart."
--The Canadian Jewish News
"Gail Benick's clean prose brings one family's love and secrets into focus, letting us feel the longing for connection across the chasm of the unsayable. While the Berk family's life is steeped in Jewish culture--and the memory of the Holocaust--this finely-crafted novella encompasses universal themes. Familial love and loss transcend all boundaries of history and culture; Benick has brought these themes home through her beautiful portrayal of Linda Sue and her siblings."
--Marianne Apostolides, author of The Lucky Child and Voluptuous Pleasure: The Truth About the Writing Life
"Survivors of the Lodz ghetto, the Berkowitz family is renamed Berk, "with the flick of an immigration officer's pen." But assimilation to North American culture is nowhere near that simple, especially for one daughter born with Turner's Syndrome, a condition which renders her visibly different from her peers. Commonplaces of 1950s girlhood become the vehicle for this meditation on identity and difference. In the voice of her young protagonist, Gail Benick maintains an exquisite tension between poignancy and wit, depicting a life where each day brings collisions between outer confidence and inner trauma, between boundless opportunity and irretrievable loss."
--Maria Meindl, author of Outside the Box: The Life and Legacy of Writer Mona Gould, the Grandmother I Thought I Knew
"The Girl Who Was Born That Way has a rare genetic condition, Turner Syndrome, which only affects females. As someone with Turner Syndrome who was born in the fifties and spent part of my adolescence in the sixties, this novella makes me appreciate the great strides made since Terry Sue's days. In this book, Gail Benick approaches both the social and medical issues of this syndrome in a delicate, insightful and sympathetic manner. A compelling must-read for everyone."
--Susan Charney, founder of The Turner Syndrome Society of Canada
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