We Are All One

About a billion years ago, when my older child, Diana, was just born, a good friend who was moving out of town came by with a huge box of books she'd gathered for us. One of them was A Visit to Oma.

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She'd been giving me descriptions of each book, and at this one she paused. "I just love this because—" She paused. "It's just so much what it was like when I visited my own grandmother, I guess."
But here's the crazy thing: my friend is a Protestant, ancestors-in-this-country-for-hundreds-of-years sort of person from the south (where her grandmother, of course, also was). And what I thought of this when I read this story to Diana for the frist time, and came upon Oma, the narrator's great-grandmother, was that obviously this was a German-Jewish family emerged from (in some not quite directly touched upon way) the holocaust.
But that's what is the amazing thing about books, at least the good ones. The more specific and true their own small portion of reality is, the more true it becomes in some larger, more overarching way. So this book, a quietly smart and moving story within a story about a girl's being forced to marry, then shunned, then finding love, somehow brings its truths with it wherever it goes. And it brings, too, an unobtrusive message: that grandparents and great-grandparents have their own real and powerful pasts.
I just checked on the author's web site that this book is out of print, which kind of kills me. It's really strange and wonderful. You can still find it in the library, of course, and the link above will help you find it used. it's worth finding. I would read it to anyone up to 9 (and they would, I think, secretly read it themselves, though it is a picture book).

4 thoughts on “We Are All One

  1. That looks like a great book. I have found that too, that great books seem to speak to everyone in a way that feels like it speaks only to your experience, though other people feel exactly the same way. My kids have the tremendous fortune to live with their grandfather (my father-in-law), and it’s so amazing to hear him tell them his own stories, reminding us that he has a history too.

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  2. I came here from the recommendation of Finslippy, and have read ALL of your past posts. I have written a (very long) list, and I am so grateful. Thank you for starting this blog. It ROCKS!

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  3. One of my nostalgic childhood favourite books was called “Grandmother Oma”. I remember loving it before I could read, and I can’t really remember any of the story, just of the cover which had a white-haired black-dressed lady on roller skates, with turquoise background.
    Your post makes me think of this book which I haven’t thought of for years, and now I have a really nice warm fuzzy feeling. Thanks!

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