The Takeaway Men

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
264 Pages
Reviewed on 07/24/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite

The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain is a historical fiction novel focusing on the life of a family after they have left Poland for America after World War Two. Dyta, or Judy—so dubbed by her new family in America—struggles to keep the secret of her true origins. When she and her husband, Aron, decide to settle in the new country with their twin daughters, Aron is determined to put the Holocaust behind them, and his self-imposed shame about his wife’s background. However, as their girls grow up, more and more comes to light about what happened to the Jewish people and they start to ask questions. Can Judy and Aron come to terms with the past?

I immensely enjoyed The Takeaway Men by Meryl Ain. All too often, books focus on what happens to people persecuted by the Nazis during the war, but I rarely find a novel that tells the story of what happens to a family after liberation. However, I wished Judy’s character was developed a bit more. There were a few moments when I was hoping she would find someone to confide in, yet she kept her silence. The twins were two of my favorite characters. It was nice to see the contrast between the pair. I do hope Meryl Ain goes on to write more, including what ends up happening to the twins as well as Faye’s daughter. It’s such an interesting premise, it would be wonderful to see a sequel. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, especially if they want a novel about what happened after the war.

Curt Lader

With the cloud of the Holocaust still looming over them, twin sisters Bronka and Johanna Lubinski and their parents arrive in the US from a Displaced Persons Camp. In the years after World War II, they experience the difficulties of adjusting to American culture as well as the burgeoning fear of the Cold War. Years later, the discovery of a former Nazi hiding in their community brings the Holocaust out of the shadows. As the girls get older, they start to wonder about their parents’ pasts, and they begin to demand answers. But it soon becomes clear that those memories will be more difficult and painful to uncover than they could have anticipated. Poignant and haunting, The Takeaway Men explores the impact of immigration, identity, prejudice, secrets, and lies on parents and children in mid-twentieth-century America.

Curt Lader

A touching and relevant story about the Lubinskis, a displaced family who were caught up in the Holocaust and come to America with their young twin daughters Bronka and Johanna. Their back story and their adjustment to a new life in Bellerose, Queens portrays the difficulty of raising two children who are immersed in their new culture while their parents are hiding a dark secret from them and struggle to find a balance between life in America and the life they left behind. Author Meryl Ain reminds us of what it was like growing up in the 1950's and 1960's in a Jewish household where the Lubinskis live with their extended family. If you remember TV shows such as Howdy Doody you will be transported back to that time. Ain also writes in a compelling way about how historical events such as the Rosenberg trial and Nazis hiding in plain sight impacted Jews during those times. You will crave the many Jewish foods that are described and the appendix of Yiddish words found in the book was very helpful

As a former High School social studies teacher, I highly recommend The Takeaway Men to teachers and students who are studying the Holocaust and American History. As a former temple president, I appreciated Ain's raising the relevant question of "who is a Jew?" Meryl Ain is a highly skilled writer. The book left me hoping for a sequel.

Phyllis Lader

Once you start reading Meryl Ain's The Takeaway Men, you'll never want to stop. In telling the poignant story of the very different twin Lubinski girls born to enigmatic parents who are guarding their own painful memories of the Holocaust, Ain masterfully evokes a time, place and culture-Bellerose, Queens in the 1950s. You can almost taste the matzo balls!
But you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate this novel, because the theme is universal. When the past is punctuated by horror, while the present offers so much hope for the future, how much of that past should be shared with your children and your extended family? Only time will tell whether the Lubinskis can truly free themselves from the Takeaway Men, and I, for one, would love to read even more.