They Went Left by Monica Hesse

Published on December 13, 2021

They Went Left Book Cover

Reviewed by Kerrin Graul

They Went Left is a story about recovering the pieces of one’s life after a tragedy and learning how to move on and rebuild your life. The main protagonist is a survivor of the Holocaust who finds herself recovering in a hospital waiting for the day she can leave and find her brother. She is given the chance to go home and discovers that life is not what it used to be. Her house was occupied during the war, her family is all gone, the only thing keeping her going is her search for her younger brother. This is the story of how far the protagonist will go to find the only living family member she has left.

This book is not a funny or relaxing read, it is a piece of history. It talks about the abuse of Jews during World War 2. The protagonist talks about the horrors of being held prisoner in a concentration camp and the toll it took on her body. The character has repressed the majority of her memories to save her sanity, but they will come to light at select points of the novel. The protagonist is a strong female lead who understands that she must survive for her brother, not give up following the horrors of her past. This book features love, loss, and friendship. A well rounded novel.

When the author was interviewed about why she wrote this novel, she stated that in all of her research there were hundreds of novels about the War and about the day individuals were liberated, but never a book about the recovery process following the war. This book discusses how Jews recovered following the Holocaust.


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