The Choice by Edith Eger Book Review (Spoilers)

Friday, 14 June 2019

Title: The Choice
Author: Edith Eger
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: 16th August 2018
Pages: 384
Genre: The Holocaust, World War II, Psychology, Non Fiction, Memoir

I finished this book in two days, and I'm a slow reader, so that's really saying something.

My great-nanna lived through WW2, and I've always been passionate about learning of this devastating period of time. I can remember listening to her fascinating stories of survival and hope through the most daunting and difficult times, the future unknown and literally just surviving one day at a time.

I think that's why I enjoyed The Choice so much. It's a tale of Edith Eger's fight for survival, both during and after being a prisoner of war in Auschwitz when she was a mere 16 years old.

Edith, her mother, and her sister Madga were put on a cattle truck and arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. She and her sister survived the selection line, but her mother did not, and was sent to the gas chambers. For the next year, Edith and Magda would face many harrowing situations, including starvation, disease, beatings, and dancing for the entertainment of the infamous Josef Mengele.

After the camp she and her sister were being held at was liberated, she was pulled from a literal pile of dead bodies to safety. But her story doesn't end there. In fact, this period of time is covered within the first 100 pages of the book. We soon learn that Edith faces a lifelong battle of finding inner peace. It's a tale of a woman, who for years and years after the war ended, refused to acknowledge her own internal torment of the things she had witnessed, the hunger she had faced, and the family she had lost.

We follow Edith's journey long after the war has ended, where she learns that the war coming to an end wasn't necessarily the end of imprisonment, that no matter how far geographically she ran from her past, it still reared its ugly head somehow, constantly reminding her of the hell she once lived through.

We see Edith liberated from war, and her struggles of accepting what has been and what might be to come. We see her struggle to make ends meet, both financially and emotionally. We hear of a woman who has yet to figure out how to cope with the internal struggle she has held on to for so many years, and how she uses these emotions to go on and become Dr. Edith Eger, who will ultimately help mentally sick people from all walks of life by delving deeper into their problems than just the surface issue - take Emma's anorexia story for example - how, yes, she has anorexia but also what is causing it (spoiler; a dysfunctional family atmosphere which ultimately forces her to feel the need to be in control of something in her life; food).

It's a tale of grief for her own mother. We hear how Edith returned to Auschwitz many years after being liberated, to say goodbye to her on the grounds where she saw her last.

It's a beautiful story, and very elegantly written. Edith clearly has a talent for storytelling, and there was rarely a dull moment in this book. The book covered so much of her life; from what her life was like before becoming a prisoner, to her survival at Auschwitz, to the birth of her children, her immigration to America, the breakdown of her marriage, to using all of her past experiences into helping other people, and finally, finding her own inner peace and learning to forgive those who caused her and her family so much pain and torture.

If you're looking for a book that solely focuses on Auschwitz, then this probably isn't the book for you. This book is more than a story, it makes you think. It makes you think about your own life choices and the ways in which you could have perhaps handled situations differently. It's a book that makes you question your own feelings and thoughts and prospects of the future.

The Choice is a book I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone. There is so much depth and so much transparency to this book. It's a remarkable and thought-provoking read, and you don't necessarily need to have an interest in the war to be moved by this book.

I think this book is beautifully written, and I'm glad I've read it. We're lucky to have some insight into Edith Eger's life, because one way or another, I'm sure we can all apply a little bit of her wisdom and her passion for forgiveness into our own lives.

Verdict: ★★★★

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