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We Are On Our Own by Miriam Katin

We Are On Our Own (2006)

by Miriam Katin

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This powerful and touching memoir of the author and her mother's time (1944-1945) surviving through the last of WWII in Hungary, and with a few glimpses into her modern life in NYC, was riveting. The illustrations only add to the dark, confusing time that was the end of the war in Europe. At turns sad, hopeful, harrowing, and desperate, this could only be true. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down. ( )
  LauraBrook | Mar 13, 2013 |
Very sad and touching story about a mother and her little daughter who has to go into hiding during world war two. the art is very dark and dramatic and adds to the oppresive feel of the story. I very much recommend it. ( )
  verenka | Jun 3, 2012 |
I am new to graphic books and, to be honest, a bit leery. In a surprising (to me) discovery, this is a book I cannot image being told in any other format. Miriam Katin is truly able to convey a thousand words in key frames.

In 1944, Miriam is a bright and happy child living in Budapest with her mother and her dog Rexy. Her father, a dimly remembered figure, is away at the front. Miriam's mother, Esther, worries about the increasing restrictions on Jews, but Miriam's too young to understand the adults' fears. But when her dog is taken away and then they themselves have to move, Miriam struggles to make sense of her world and links their situation to her early lessons about God, often in a very literal way. On the run and relying on the protection of strangers, Miriam and Esther face loneliness, hunger, and fear over and over again during the next year. Finally the war ends, but it is still months before their journey ends.

The sketches in the book are mostly in black and white. Interspersed throughout, however, are a few pages in color. Most of these pages depict Miriam's perspective on her childhood as an adult, now with a child of her own. I found this juxtaposition to be particularly effective and easy to follow because of the use of color. The evolution of the child Miriam's concept of God during this horrible year is mirrored in the adult Miriam's struggles with religion and what she will teach her son. I found this strand of the story to be an important link between past and present, and representative of the effects of trauma on Miriam as an adult.

Miriam's memoir is also the story of her mother's bravery. The drawings of Esther portray a mother desperately trying to keep her daughter safe and, perhaps even harder, innocent. Visually seeing Esther's grief and despair, I leaped immediately to an emotional response, without needing to have it described in words. In a way her grief is beyond words. For me, this was the hardest part of the book to experience and the most beautiful.

I strongly recommend this book, even if you are not a voracious graphic novel reader. ( )
2 vote labfs39 | Oct 25, 2011 |
We Are On Our Own is Miriam Katin's account of how she and her mother had to flee from the Nazis in Budapest and seek a safe haven. The events shift from those of her childhood to her present to show some of the long term effects. It's the small details like a child losing her dog that make this memoir standout.The illustrations were also very interesting, with the art style shifting to reflect different shifts in the plot. ( )
  Tanglewood | Jan 15, 2011 |
Wow. Miriam brings us into the past and we see her as a child escaping WWII with her mother while trying to keep a hold onto their faith amidst death and destruction. Very poignant and powerful story told in a simple manner as seen through the eyes of a child. Considering the untold numbers who perished in the war, the fact that there are those who managed to escape and start a new life is beyond miraculous. One hopes that seeing what they went through could perhaps curb humanity's bloodlust... maybe someday it will... and books like this will serve as a reminder of the pain of innocence lost. ( )
3 vote savageknight | Jul 28, 2008 |
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"In this illustrated memoir, Miriam Katin retells the story of her and her Mother's escape on foot from the Nazi invasion of Budapest. With her father off fighting for the Hungarian army and the German troops quickly approaching, Katin and her mother are forced to flee the countryside after faking their deaths. Leaving behind all of their belongings and loved ones, and unable to tell anyone of their whereabouts, they disguise themselves as a peasant woman and her illegitimate child, while literally staying a few steps ahead of the German soldiers." "We Are On Our Own is a woman's attempt to rebuild her earliest child trauma in order to come to an understanding of her lifelong questioning of faith. Katin's faith is shaken as she wonders how God could create and tolerate such a wretched world, a world of fear and hiding, bargaining and theft, betrayal and abuse. The complex and horrific experiences on the run are difficult for a child to understand, and as a child, Katin saw them with the simple longing, sadness, and curiosity she felt when her dog disappears or a stranger makes her mother cry."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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