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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Heart Songs: A Holocaust Memoir (Holocaust Survivor True Stories WWII Book 4) by Barbara Gilford is a poignant memoir of a family that survived the Holocaust and she captures the ambiance of the pre-war and pre-Shoah Moravian bourgeoisie with great expertise. The author speaks about how her grandmother had to flee to Italy to escape the Nazi occupation. Barbara Gilford's discovery of her grandmother Clara’s letters written to her father gave her the chance to connect with the missing years. The letters gave her glimpses of not only her grandmother’s story but also those of her Great-Uncle Norbert, her Aunt Gretl, and Uncle Hugo Spitzer as well. They took her right into the heart of Europe, San Donato, and straight into her grandmother’s heart and spirit.
Heart Songs throws light on the Holocaust survivors and those who lost their lives, and how it affected the psychological, historical, and familial aspects of society. It is a story of loss, pain, grief, strength, resilience, triumphs, and disappointments. Barbara Gilford's personal journey gives insights into the relatives she never met, and she introduces her family, their tragedies, weaknesses, and strengths to readers. It is a compelling memoir, heartwarming yet heartbreaking, and also shows the role Italy played in the life of the Jews during World War II. The book takes readers back in time to World War II and the atrocities unleashed against the Jews, and also depicts their lives after her father immigrated to the United States. The love and the family bonding are palpable in the author's words and she seamlessly weaves three generations of her family into the memoir, making Heart Songs a memorable book.