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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Waiting for Mama by Bozenna Urbanowicz Gilbride is a gritty memoir set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. A Christian Holocaust survivor returns home to Poland and, to her great surprise, home is no longer what it used to be. It is now a Communist country, something that unnerves her, and she learns that her children are missing. The reader follows her painful, challenging, and dangerous journey to reunite with her children, joining a clandestine group and getting caught by border patrol and put in prison. What will it take for her to rejoin her children in America?
The memoir starts in a dramatic tone: “The peace and happiness ended when Germany attacked western Poland on September 1, 1939 and on September 17, 1939, when eastern Poland, where we lived, was invaded by the Soviet Union. Our lives were changed forever.” The story is rich in pathos and it explores what it felt like to live under Communist rule. The reader feels the reverberations of WWII, the painful reality of the Holocaust and the fear the protagonist quickly learned to live with. Waiting for Mama is written in a captivating style and it is rich in history — not the history most of us have been taught in school, but one lived through the flesh of a loving mother.
There are surprising revelations of the period immediately following WWII. The themes of family, solitude, war, man’s inhumanity to man, and motherhood come across in the narrative beautifully, but it is the protagonist’s fierce resolve to reunite with her children that will take readers by surprise. Bozenna Urbanowicz Gilbride’s work is another compelling entry in Holocaust literature, a true story that is wonderfully crafted and that will inform and entertain readers. It’s a story of love and war, but above all, it is a story of one woman’s quest for real freedom.