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Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite
Walter Stern, a Holocaust survivor, made a testimony video about his road to freedom from Nazi Germany and through Holland one year before his death in 1993. His daughter, Irene, re-watched it after the elections in 2016. That year marked the starting point of the new wave of antisemitism globally, and Walter's video took on a new meaning for Irene. Walter was about to turn twelve when he and his family, the owners of a clothing and textiles store in Bocholt, Germany, were brutally awakened in the dead of night on November 9–10, 1938. History remembers that night as Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. The family's store was vandalized, and the lives of the Sterns were threatened. But Walter's father, Moritz, had a plan. He had managed to smuggle some money to neighboring Holland. The Sterns decided to escape to Holland, where they had friends. Many years later, Irene and her family traveled to Europe three times to recreate their route to survival. Shattered Stars, Healing Hearts by Irene Stern Frielich is a mesmerizing read that fans of memoirs and history will enjoy.
In Shattered Stars, Healing Hearts, Irene Stern Frielich speaks about her "inherited family trauma." It is a significant statement that should not be overlooked. The author tells us that the horrifying events of the Holocaust era still have an impact on the families of the survivors. The next generation's pain is overwhelming. But there is always a way to heal. Irene shares this healing journey with us. Irene opened up about the deepest inner feelings she experienced when she entered the house in Bocholt, where her family lived before the Holocaust. The emotional narrative transforms this memoir into a thrilling story that is impossible to put down. The author skillfully interweaves the memories of her father from the testimony video with the recreated facts of his life in Germany and Holland and her own amazing experiences and unexpected encounters in Europe. I liked the incredible stories about the heroism and dedication of those who helped save the lives of Jewish people during the darkest years of human history. Shattered Stars, Healing Hearts is a meaningful and thought-provoking book for readers who want to learn from history.