Little Boy, I Know Your Name

A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma

Non-Fiction - Memoir
236 Pages
Reviewed on 02/13/2024
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Author Biography

Mitchell Raff is a second-generation Holocaust survivor who grew up in Los Angeles. As a child, he was kidnapped and taken to Israel, where he lived for a year and a half before a private investigator hired by his family located him. This led to a lifelong connection with the Jewish homeland, and as a young man, he returned to Israel to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. A former business owner, Mitchell now resides in Southern California and is the owner and director of an outreach charity, Clothing the Homeless. Little Boy I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from the Inherited Holocaust Trauma.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Juan Lynch for Readers' Favorite

Little Boy, I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma by Mitchell Raff is an insightful, heartwrenching story of the author's life. Mitchell's father and mother both endured the unspeakable evils perpetuated on the Jews during the Holocaust. This left them ill-equipped to take on the challenge of parenting. For a while in his early years, his paternal aunt, Sally, and her husband, Issa, took him in and loved him as best as they could; they were also Holocaust survivors. At four years old, Mitchell was enticed to live with his mom and little sister. He soon regretted this decision. His mother physically and psychologically abused him. This trauma went on to affect every relationship Mitchell would have.

I enjoyed reading Little Boy, I Know Your Name by Mitchell Raff. The story was conveyed mainly in chronological order and was well-paced. Raff's writing style kept me in suspense, always wanting to know what would happen next. His childhood was filled with sad episodes that helped me connect emotionally not only with Mitchell, but also with his sister Regina (Malka), Issa, and Sally. Raff masterfully captured the essence of every person that he spoke about, no matter how small their contribution to the story. This included lovable family members, slimy in-laws, and racist classmates. Additionally, Raff relates his battle as an adult against drug and sex addiction tactfully. The themes of self-discovery, family betrayal, life, and death are beautifully portrayed in this memoir. I highly recommend Little Boy, I Know Your Name to all avid readers.

Emma Megan

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a thought-provoking memoir about inherited trauma. Mitchell Raff was born in Los Angeles in January 1959 to parents who experienced the Second World War and the Holocaust. In this book, he describes what he endured growing up and the self-destructive ways he would find himself relying on as an adult. Like many Holocaust survivors, Mitchell's uncle, aunt, father, and mother chose to stay silent and suppress the horrors that the Holocaust unleashed on them and millions of other Jews. When Mitchell was four years old, at the insistence of his abusive mother, he left his second set of parents, his aunt and uncle, whom he loved very much, to live with his mother and his half-sister. Thus, with an absent father and a disturbed mother, he learned what instability, fear, physical and emotional abuse, poverty, dissociation, and humiliation felt like.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a profoundly impactful book. Mitchell Raff offers a brutally honest look at the harsh reality of inherited trauma, addiction, and the road to recovery. This incredible true story helps the reader better understand why some people act out and how trauma can affect our lives and those around us. It's simultaneously heartwrenching and uplifting. It inspires and gives hope to those who struggle with sexual addiction, substance abuse, self-loathing, failed relationships, and loneliness. I'm impressed with the author's ability to write honestly and authentically about the traumatic events he endured throughout his life. This devastating story of a second-generation Holocaust survivor is well worth reading. It focuses on loss, depression, the need to be loved, hope, and the importance of therapy.

K.C. Finn

Little Boy, I Know Your Name: A Second-Generation Memoir from Inherited Holocaust Trauma is a work of non-fiction in the autobiographical writing, sociocultural issues, and family issues subgenres. It is best suited to the adult reading audience owing to difficult subject matter such as sexual trauma and child abuse. Penned by author Mitchell Raff, the author vividly recounts the manifestations of inherited Holocaust trauma through his parents' experiences, his mother's abuse, his father's sorrow, and the struggles of his extended family members. He narrates his traumatic childhood, marked by abandonment, abuse, and a search for identity amidst the shadows of his mother's actions. Reflecting on his adult life, Raff recognizes the profound impact of the trauma, evident in his struggles with addiction, self-loathing, and despair.

Author Mitchell Raff has crafted a powerful memoir that holds nothing back, approaching life with a raw perspective that balances the beauty and tragedy of life in a poignant juxtaposition. Despite the darkness of his past, Raff's memoir is ultimately a testament to the power of healing and resilience, and he allows readers to get into his psychology and emotional processing at the most crucial moments of his development. Through his journey of transformation, he confronts and names the inherited trauma, offering hope and insight for others grappling with similar struggles. The structure of the work reflects the journey well and offers a highly readable experience as a result. Overall, I would certainly recommend Little Boy, I Know Your Name as an eye-opening work and a must-read for those seeking compelling narratives of trauma, healing, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Luwi Nyakansaila

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is an emotional memoir by Mitchell Raff that highlights how trauma can be inherited and affect future generations. Mitchell narrates how he was raised by his abusive mother, emotionally absent father, and caring aunt and uncle, who all were survivors of the Holocaust. Despite leaving the grasp of his abusive mother, he was haunted by unresolved emotions that continued tormenting him into adult life, leading to sexual addiction and drug use. His marriage crumbled, and the final blow was his son’s delinquency and death. Throughout the book, he talks about his therapy and the discussions that helped him trace the roots of his trauma. Join Mitchell on his journey as he seeks healing and inner peace.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is a powerful story that captivates your heart and immerses you in Mitchell Raff’s world, allowing you to experience his emotions and journey. His raw honesty and vulnerability in his writing make it a deeply impactful read that stays with you even after you finish the book. It contains vital lessons that can transform your life and help you reflect on your actions. It also highlights the effects of suppressing trauma and how it can manifest in the most unexpected ways. Mitchell draws comparisons to his parents' trauma, explaining the similarities, like how he forgot that he had shown his uncle the wounds from his mother’s beating and how his mother blocked out her experience of hiding in a barn during the Holocaust. The narration is suspenseful, as he provides little hints about his life before fully disclosing them. The book is divided into different parts, which makes it organized and easy to follow. It is a must-read for those on their journey of self-discovery.

Doreen Chombu

At age four, Mitchell Raff met his biological mother for the first time, behind the fence of his elementary school. This incident would forever change his life because her first words to him were, "Little boy, I know your name," which is the title of his profound memoir. Mitchell grew up with a family that had trauma from the Holocaust. His father was crippled by it, his mother expressed it with anger, and his loving Aunt Sally and Uncle Issa chose not to talk about it. Unfortunately, the effects manifested in their lives and consequently in Mitchell’s life, from custody battles to his choice of a partner, sex life, and identity as a Jew. His life began to unravel due to his experiences and trauma.

Little Boy, I Know Your Name is an emotional story that captivated me from start to finish. Mitchell Raff’s life is a memorable one that I will reflect on for many years. His easy narration and calm tone are vital to the storytelling because most of the incidents mentioned in this book will make your blood boil. The story contains triggering topics such as child neglect, and physical, mental, and sexual abuse. Nevertheless, it is worth reading because of its inspiring message of love, healing, and growth. The author’s journey will remind someone going through dark moments that they are not alone. The book is well-written, with humor laced into the tense moments. I loved reading Mitchell’s story and appreciate that he shared it with the world. Overall, this is great work.