Sunday, February 10, 2013

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald Balson

   Besides being a murder mystery junkie, I am also a dedicated lover of Holocaust literature.  I find the stories of human nature both disturbing and redemptive, giving me glimpses into the human heart and soul (both good and evil) that remind me of what is needed, and not, in the world today.  I constantly tell my students "the more you read, the smarter you get;" I find books about WWII and the victims of this terrible time period to be not only instructive, but typically unforgettable.
   In Once We Were Brothers, I found absolutely everything necessary to a page-turning, deliciously good book.  We meet the main character, an elderly Jewish man named Ben Solomon, who is accused of the attempted murder of Chicago's most respected, and financially generous philanthropist, Eliot Rosenzweig.  Of course, Ben needs a good lawyer, and who better but a down-on-her luck, doer-of-good-deeds woman like Catherine Lockhart?  Before she defends him, however, Ben insists on telling her his story, every familial, heart-breaking, historical detail. Catherine wonders...is this long story necessary?  However, Ben is a mesmerizing story teller, and as he relates his life story, we, like Catherine, are pulled into his world of a small Jewish town in Poland, into the lives of the Solomon family and the 'son' they foster and we too begin to wonder...is Eliot Rosenzweig who he says he is?  Neither my daughter nor I could put this book down, reading it in just two days.  If you like history, if you like love, redemption, victory against all odds, evil doings, and seekers of justice, you will love Once We Were Brothers.  I did.

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