Dear Willy, The True Story of a Life Well Lived

Non-Fiction - Memoir
386 Pages
Reviewed on 09/15/2018
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Author Biography

Throughout her life Claire Ohlsson Geheb has developed a passion for history, especially social history. “As I learned about the important events of the past, I always wanted to know about the ordinary people and wondered what their lives were like,” Claire said. When the old German letters were translated into English, she was intrigued by the stories that were told. What started as a family project developed into a mission to share these revealing stories with others who have an interest in social history. As Claire edited and organized the letters, journals and photos, she also added historical comments for clarification. She believes, “This book touches readers in a primal way as it describes what we all want: to live our lives the best we can.”

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Dear Willy, The True Story of a Life Well Lived is a real life biographic memoir penned by author Claire Ohlsson Geheb. Delving back into her own family history, Geheb explores the life and times of Willy Oswald Geheb, a German American immigrant who sought a better life for his family and his descendants, despite living through some of the most terrifying and difficult years in German history. Chronicling the period of both World Wars, the story begins with Willy’s training as a private in Germany. The life of the German people through war and in the inter-war period is tremendously difficult, and it’s only as the Second World War concludes that there is a tiny flicker of hope for a better future.

Claire Ohlsson Geheb has done a wonderful job of chronicling her family history by collecting and collating letters, diaries and other documents to bring Willy Geheb’s original life story into brand new being. I am a huge fan of real life stories of families living through the Second World War, and the tale of the Gehebs brings all the terrifying drama and fear to the fore whilst also showing their solidarity and spirit. They never stop dreaming of more, and that also makes this a fascinating tale of immigration success, one with extreme heart and consideration for the hardships of others. History fans will delight in real photographs and ‘at the time’ evidence from Willy himself, and overall I’d say that Dear Willy, The True Story of a Life Well Lived is a real triumph.

C. Schafer

“Dear Willy” was first on my summer reading list. What a wonderful way to kick off the season. Author Claire Geheb brings to life the history of the Geheb family through the eyes of the one member, Willy, who ventures out of Germany post WWI. Using letters, journals, and actual photos, the reader is privy to the trials and tribulations the Geheb family faced through two world wars, depressions, and being separated by not only an ocean, but also by ambitions, opportunities, and political beliefs. Love of family and strong ties to the Motherland are woven throughout. “ Dear Willy “ not only belongs on everyone’s must read list, but deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf to remind us of where so many of us have come from and where we could be if it were not for so many of our adventurous and determined ancestors.