Title: The Choice: A True Story of Hope
Author: Edith Eger
Publication date: 16th August 2018
Goodreads rating: 4.57
Genre: The Holocaust, World War II, Psychology, Non Fiction, Memoir
I received an early copy of this book to review. All views are my own and are not influenced by receiving a copy in any way.
I would like to thank Bishneen Gurwara from Ebury Publishing for sending me a copy of this book and of course the author, Dr. Edith Eger.
Overall opinion of the book:
Before I begin my review, I just want to say how honoured I am to have been contacted to review The Choice. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you will know that the Holocaust and World War II is a topic that I’ve studied in detail in my own time and at degree level. It’s a topic I feel strongly about sharing and one I think should never be forgotten. Naturally, when I was contacted I jumped at the chance to review this book as it was already on my radar and one I was looking forward to being published.
The PR package I received with the book was so touching and included a little envelope with a personalised letter from the publishers and some printed photos of Edith that are included on the inside covers of the book. Here are some photos of these:
The Choice was both an inspiring and equally heartbreaking to read. I would encourage everyone to read Edith’s story of how she conquered Auschwitz and the preying eyes of the infamous Doctor Mengele, better known as ‘the angel of death’. The main focus of Edith’s story is that, to quote, “even in hell, hope can flower”. Years after Edith was rescued from a pile of corpses, barely alive, and liberated from Dachau extermination camp; she chose to train as a physiologist. Having experienced PTSD for many years as a result of the horrific things she witnessed during World War II, Edith chose this career to help other people.
There’s nothing I could possibly say in this review that would fully do Edith’s story and this book justice. Edith truly is a remarkable and strong person that has taken the most inhumane treatment and experiences and used them as a vessel to help other people. Words cannot fully describe her remarkable strength and determination.
The Choice certainly is a must read, especially if you would like to better understand what trauma and ill treatment millions of people were subject to under the Nazi regime. Although this book only covers Edith’s personal experiences, it gives much insight into how other people were treated at Auschwitz and Dachau, but also in general. It explains how the experiences people had in concentration camps and under the Nazi rule changed people’s lives forever.
When thinking about and discussing the Holocaust, often we tend to focus on the vast amount of people who tragically lost their lives. While this is of utmost importance, it’s also important to remember those who survived and listen to their stories, to educate people to have a clearer understanding of what happened. Many books associated with the Holocaust that I’ve read tend to discuss the events and people’s experiences at the time, but do not continue to follow the survivor’s story after the war. That’s what’s so great about The Choice, it emphasises that Edith’s life continued after the war ended, although it affected her in many ways, what happened didn’t completely define her as a person. So many other things happened in her life.
The Choice discusses the after affects of trauma and PTSD. Having read many books discussing World War Two the majority of the books I have come across do not really discuss this. Many survivors did not feel comfortable to share their experiences, which is completely understandable. This is what makes The Choice such a powerful book. Edith did not discuss her experiences for many years because it was too painful to do so. To then write a book talking so explicitly about what happened and how it affected her life after the war emphasises how strong and remarkable she truly is. Her courage to share her innermost feelings should certainly be recognised.
The spelling, punctuation and grammar in the book is impeccable. Edith has a natural flair for writing and her story was easy to follow. She explains things readers may be confused by well and is concise in her explanations. Although many parts of The Choice were harrowing to read, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Edith’s strength and determination. Her kind and compassionate personality, and her ability to have a positive outlook on life shines through so strongly and is inspiring to read.
As the title suggests and Edith explains, at many points in our life we are presented with a choice. In Edith’s case, it was whether she chose to survive the atrocities she faced at Auschwitz and Dachau, or not. The choices we are faced with, whether they are big or small, have the capability to make or break us. Edith emphasises to readers and her patients that even in the horrific of situations and “hope can flower”. In every situation, life provides us with multiple choices and it’s up to us to choose the option we want to take the most. This is definitely a powerful thought and one that will forever stick with me after reading Edith’s story.
I would certainly recommend reading The Choice. There is so much depth to this book and it truly is a remarkable and thought provoking read. You do not necessarily need to have an interest in the war to be moved by this book. It also focuses on many aspects of Edith’s life, such as her relationships, family, friends, jobs, money and moving countries.
Edith discusses PTSD in a lot of detail, specifically how she has helped many people to overcome and accept the different types of trauma they have experienced. Throughout the novel, and particularly towards the end, Edith discusses some of the conversations and scenarios she has had being a psychologist. I found these parts of the book particularly interesting to read, especially when she discusses the minor tweaks and changes she makes to help each client with their treatment. She emphasises that everyone’s recovery and trauma is different and no one will react to it in the same way. This is why she adapts her tone of voice and sessions to best suit each client.
Edith explains that many of her clients have attempted to disregard their own trauma when they learn about her own experiences. She explains to them that everyone’s trauma is valid and shouldn’t be disregarded or compared to anyone else’s. I think this is such an important and powerful thing to remember when talking about mental health in general as we do tend to compare our situations to others when we shouldn’t.
I am genuinely honoured to have received a copy of The Choice and it is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2018. It was one of the most powerful and moving books I’ve read this year and Edith’s story, strength and experiences will stay with me forever.
If you would like to purchase a copy of this book, you can do so here:
Have you read The Choice? If you have, what part of the book moved you the most? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
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