From National Jewish Book Award Finalist and author of The Yellow Bird Sings, comes a new novel based on the true stories of children stolen in the wake of World War II.
ONCE WE WERE HOME
by Jennifer Rosner
Flatiron/St. Martin’s Press, March 2023
Ana will never forget her mother’s face when she sent her and her baby brother, Oskar, out of their Polish ghetto and into the arms of a Christian friend. For Oskar, though, their new family is the only one he remembers. When a woman from a Jewish resettlement organization seizes them, claiming to have their best interest at heart, Ana sees an opportunity to reconnect with her roots, while Oskar sees only the loss of the home he loves. Roger grows up in a monastery in France, inventing stories and trading riddles with his best friend in a life of quiet concealment. When a Jewish aunt seeks to reclaim him, the Church steals him across the Pyrenees before relinquishing him to family in Jerusalem. Renata, a graduate student in archaeology, has spent her life unearthing secrets from the past—except for her own. After her mother’s death, Renata’s grief is entwined with all the questions her mother left unanswered, including why they fled Germany so quickly when Renata was a little girl. Two decades after the war, these characters are each building lives for themselves in Israel, trying to move on from the trauma and loss that haunts them. But as their stories converge in unexpected ways, they must ask where they truly belong. Beautifully evocative and tender, filled with both luminosity and anguish, ONCE WE WERE HOME illuminates a little-known history. Based on the true stories of children stolen during wartime, this heart-wrenching novel raises questions of complicity and responsibility, good intentions and unforeseen consequences, as it confronts what it really means to find home.
Jennifer Rosner is the author of The Yellow Bird Sings, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award; the memoir If A Tree Falls: A Family’s Quest to Hear and Be Heard, about raising her deaf daughters in a hearing, speaking world; and a children’s book, The Mitten String, which is a Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable. Jennifer’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Massachusetts Review, The Forward, Good Housekeeping, and elsewhere. She lives in western Massachusetts with her family.