Managing Bubbie

Non-Fiction - Biography
248 Pages
Reviewed on 05/29/2015
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Author Biography

Author Russel Lazega is a lawyer living in North Miami Beach, Florida. He is a columnist for the Aventura News and the author of several nonfiction publications, including Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and Practice (PIP), the nation's leading treatise on Florida car insurance law that stirred tremendous excitement throughout Florida's sprawling community of insurance agents and insurance lawyers. Managing Bubbie is Lazega's first foray into creative nonfiction. When he is not writing, or chasing after a pair of fire-breathing, house-wrecking T. rexes impersonating small children, the author can be found kayaking the waterways of South Florida, venturing as far as the tide will take him from his loving, but indescribably overbearing, family.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite

Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is a heartwarming and hysterical memoir of his “Bubbie,” Lea Lazega. Intermixed with a narrative about her harrowing journey across Europe to America during World War Two are snippets of conversations between various family members, providing insight into the modern life of this courageous woman. As the Nazis invade countries in Europe, Lea manages to escape by the skin of her teeth with her three small children. Being Jewish at this time was difficult enough, but Lea continues to show courage in the face of adversity, finally managing to get her children out of Europe, back to America and safety.

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. Mr. Lazega had me from the beginning, as I am a huge Neil Simon fan. I was reminded of Brighton Beach Memoirs, a play I have directed, in the way he portrayed the scenes of his family life. Even more inspiring was Lea’s journey through war-torn Europe. I can only imagine the fear she must have felt, knowing at any moment they could be caught and sent to a concentration camp. I did not want the story to end, and I wanted to know what exactly happened to Eva and Lea’s first husband. Mr. Lazega has done an impeccable job weaving together the memories and experiences of his Bubbie. I loved the addition of letters and photographs to bring even more life to the colorful members of his family. Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is certainly a different type of Holocaust memoir, one of hope, inspiration, and humor.

Charity Tober

Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is a touching and inspirational memoir. The book tells the story of a Jewish family in Miami Beach and how they try their best to ensure that Bubbie’s later years are full of comfort, safety and happiness. Bubbie is an aging, stubborn, and unmanageable Holocaust survivor and, because of what she’s already endured, it will take a great deal of patience, determination and perseverance to keep up with her. Bubbie is the matriarch of the family and the story shows how one extraordinary person in the family can positively impact so many others. Readers will be taken on a journey full of hope, family, laughs and more as they read this personal account of a family attempting the impossible task of Managing Bubbie.

I found Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega to be an endearing read. It was refreshing (and humorous at times) to read the family’s account of how they tried to care for the headstrong and resilient Bubbie. It was an impossible task at times because Bubbie was a woman who had endured it all. Being a Holocaust survivor, she had learned the hard way to be tough, self-preserving, and survive against all odds. Readers get a heartbreaking and inside look at just what it took to survive in those tumultuous times, as we learn of the hardships that Bubbie endured and how she came out of it a stronger person. The author does a superb job in capturing the aspects of family, strength and determination woven seamlessly throughout the story. I would recommend this to fans of memoir, inspirational, motivational and historical genres.

Raanan Geberer

Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is the story of how an ordinary, uneducated Jewish woman was forced to be a hero during World War II. The book is written in an unusual style. Bubbie’s (real name Lea) wartime story is interspersed with later vignettes of Bubbie’s daily life in Miami Beach in the 1980s with her grandson, the author, as well as several other elderly relatives -- gossiping about this and that, watching TV game shows and outrageously claiming that then-President Reagan is really her half-brother. As a young woman, Lea had moved from poverty-stricken Poland to Brussels, thinking it a good move. But when World War II broke out, she, her husband (who eventually left the family) and her children began their long trek, always one step ahead of the Nazis. Hiding out in Paris, Provence, Marseilles, Spain, they were always ready to move at a moment’s notice.

As a Jewish-American, I can testify that Bubbie’s Yiddish-accented English, malapropisms and all, is the real thing. As for the wartime story, we don’t get much of the politics of that era, other than a mention of the fact that her husband became a communist and joined the resistance. However, politics wasn’t Bubbie’s world — to her, her children and her family were everything. She was willing to accept help from whoever she could, from Catholic nuns to a Jewish charity in neutral Spain. All in all, in Managing Bubbie, Russel Lazega shows us that extraordinary times make heroes out of ordinary people. And for those who don’t know, “Bubbie” (actually “bobbeh”) means grandmother in Yiddish.

Faridah Nassozi

Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is the author's narration of his grandmother's life journey from Poland across several borders in search of a safe harbour. When she escaped the harsh conditions in Poland, Lea was ready to take on any challenges that life would throw her way. However, nothing could have prepared her for the endless hardships and brutal conditions that lay ahead; her only crime was being born a Jew. The bigger part of the story revolves around a time when the world was at war and the Jews on the run from the ruthless hands of the Nazis. Lea, now a mother, had one purpose in life; to protect her kids. Running to nowhere in particular and not even sure what dangers lay ahead, Lea was determined to protect her kids and one day find a safe place for her little family.

Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega is the account of a one of a kind life story of an extraordinary woman. Lea's story is one of immeasurable courage and determination. It was deeply touching, heartbreaking, and at the same time inspiring to follow her across the many borders she crossed as she travelled with her sometimes starving children while the fear of death loomed over their heads at every single turn. The story is told with humour, and Lea's witty personality comes through, even during the toughest times. The hilarious family conversations allow the reader a glimpse into the family's precious moments and a dose of some good old Jewish family drama. Her amazing bravery is something to be remembered for a very long time.

Julia Schemmer

Sharing a story is never easy and comes with its own challenges. Yet, when the world is introduced to the complexities of a human life, a seed is planted in the next person to catalyze change. In the book titled Managing Bubbie, author Russ Lazega remembers the life of Bubbie, a resilient (and sometimes stubborn) elderly woman. However, she has not gone through life unstained. Behind her wide-rimmed glasses were the eyes that witnessed firsthand the atrocities of the Holocaust, the conditions of Polish ghettos, and the struggles of a wartime refugee fleeing Eastern Europe with children. With comedic elements and a family theme that you can't help but love, this book is instantly a classic.

One of the first things I learned as a journalist is that there is a story in everything, from why the gum ended up on the sidewalk to why an elderly man hunches when he walks. When I first read Managing Bubbie, my passion for storytelling was reignited, as I was given the unique and pleasurable opportunity of walking in the shoes of Bubbie, an incredible woman with a dynamic story and a stubborn sense of humor that is oddly admirable. Although I only had the opportunity to dwell with the family for a few hundred pages, my life was forever impacted by how wonderful their story is. To anyone searching for remnants of humanity and a desire to be reminded of the potential of human compassion, read this book. You won't regret that you did.