All things considered, this book (along with any other story dealing with immigration and prejudice) could be not just an eye-opener, but an empathy-opener. We need to step into these people’s shoes, and stories like this can surely help.
The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain will release August 4 in the Historical fiction genre.
With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.
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Meet the Author:
Meryl Ain’s articles and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, The New York Jewish Week, The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. The Takeaway Men is her debut novel. In 2014, she co-authored the award-winning book, The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last, and in 2016, wrote a companion workbook, My Living Memories Project Journal. She is a sought-after speaker and has been interviewed on television, radio, and podcasts. She is a career educator and is proud to be both a teacher and student of history. She has also worked as a school administrator. The Takeaway Men is the result of her life-long quest to learn more about the Holocaust, a thirst that was first triggered by reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the sixth grade. While teaching high school history, she introduced her students to the study of the Holocaust. At the same time, she also developed an enduring fascination with teaching about and researching the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case. An interview with Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, is featured in her book, The Living Memories Project. The book also includes an interview with Holocaust survivor, Boris Chartan, the founder of the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, New York. Meryl holds a BA from Queens College, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Ed.D. from Hofstra University. She lives in New York with her husband, Stewart. They have three married sons and six grandchildren.
About the story
by Meryl Ain
After a career in public schools as a history teacher and later a school administrator and following many years in a side career writing essays and opinion pieces, I finally took a stab at fiction. My debut novel, The Takeaway Men, is historical fiction. I wrote it because the story was brewing in my mind for many years. I also thought it was the best vehicle to raise issues and questions that were timely not only in the twentieth century, but especially relevant today.
On the surface it’s a story of what happened to Holocaust survivors and their children when they came to the United States after World War II. It’s about the Kielce Pogrom, where an angry mob killed 42 Jewish survivors and injured 42 because of a vicious and false rumor. This took place a year after the war was over. It’s about the political climate in the ‘50s with Joseph McCarthy and the Red Scare and the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. It’s about how former Nazis hid in America in plain sight and no one did anything about it. It’s about the impact of the nuclear race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, causing kindergarten children to crouch under their desks during “take cover” drills. The book also paints a picture of a post-war Queens, New York neighborhood, where everything appeared fresh and new and idyllic, but there was tragedy and trauma lurking. And in all of this, we are reminded that children often hear more than we think they do.
But the book also raises concerns that are as fresh as today’s news.
During World War II, Jews were restricted from immigrating to the United States and other countries due to quotas. As a result, with nowhere to escape, Hitler was free to implement his Final Solution — the murder of six million Jews. We continue to debate immigration today. Should we be restrictive or welcoming? How do we treat newcomers to our country? Do we acknowledge that they are often escaping traumatic hardships? Related to this question is how do we treat those whom we consider different, “the other?” And why do we continue to view each other by labels?
Religious identity is also a big question in the book – Is it something we inherit or something we choose? Is it static or fluid? Another issue raised in the book, which is very relevant today is: How do we react to evil in our country and in the world? Do we participate because everyone else is doing it? Do we stand idly by and do nothing, like the participants in the Kielce Pogrom? Or do we have a moral and ethical responsibility to speak out and take action against it?
The whole question of what parents choose to share with their children is an important theme in the novel. Is it better to expose the painful truth or perpetuate secrets and lies? And, when is it the appropriate time for adults to reveal the truth to children.
- Win 1 of 5 print copies of THE TAKEAWAY MEN or $25 Amazon Gift Card (USA only) (6 winners)