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August 31, 2021

The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain ~ an Audiobook Review

by Donna Huber

I'm often disappointed when reading WWII and the story ends with the liberation of the camp or VE-Day because I always want to know what happened to the characters. I wanted to know how did they go on with life when everything and often everyone was gone? The Takeaway Men starts are the end of the war and follows a Jewish family as they immigrate to American and begin a new life.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free audiobook was provided for an honest review.

The Takeaway Men
August 2021; OrangeSky Audio; 9781664990692
audio (8h 41m), ebook, print; historical fiction

Susan reviewed Meryl Ain's book when it came out last year in paperback and as an ebook. As is often the case, I hadn't had time to pick up the book so I was delighted to see that it was coming out as an audiobook this year.

From the title, you would think that the story would focus more on the former Nazi that is recognized in the Lubinskis' New York neighborhood. But really it is more about restarting life after everything you've known has disappeared, about moving forward, finding a new identity, and how to deal with the past.

I liked the contrast between the American Jewish family and the newly arrived Lubinskis. While I'm sure most American Jews knew of family members who were killed during WWII, I'm not sure if they could truly understand the horrors European Jews experienced. Aaron Lubinski is a distant relative of Izzy but Faye and Izzy readily open their home to Aaron, his wife, and twin daughters. Izzy and Faye are definitely Americanized Jews - Izzy goes to temple on special days and they keep kosher inside the home, but not necessarily when they are out. In contrast, Aaron goes to temple every day and his family is always kosher.

Several years ago, I read a book by a Jewish author about her life growing up as the daughter of Holocaust survivors - that her parents inadvertently passed on some of their fears and trauma. We see some of that in The Takeaway Men with Aaron and Judy's children. 

Like the contrast between the two families, we also get to see how different survivors handled their own stories. The Lubinskis tried very hard to but the Holocaust behind them and even in Hebrew School, the teachers weren't allowed to really teach about this aspect of Jewish history to the point that the Lubinski girls didn't even know who Hitler was. However, there are other Holocaust survivors in the neighborhood who openly speak of their experience. 

I think The Takeaway Men gave a well-rounded and realistic portrayal of what life was like for Jewish immigrants.  It is a poignant look at immigration, identity (religious identity, cultural identity, and familial identity), the effects of trauma on generations, and family. With the many topics the story touches on, it would be great for a book club discussion.

It is an excellent book to listen to. Senn Annis does a wonderful job as narrator - giving each character their own unique voice. The story was also easy to follow as much of the action is slice-of-life type stuff. 

Buy The Takeaway Men at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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