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Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir

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History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II--a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the ti History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II--a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the time. Annette and Harry's love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry's family of Holocaust survivors. Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. As time went on, however, Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism--a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry's family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family's past.


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History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II--a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the ti History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II--a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the time. Annette and Harry's love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry's family of Holocaust survivors. Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. As time went on, however, Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism--a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry's family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family's past.

30 review for Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jan Rice

    I have to jump over my own shadow here, and I don't know if I can do that. But I will try. This is the memoir of a German woman who, in the 1980s, in her early 20s, falls in love with Harry, a young Jewish man. This is more than just an infatuation; it's for real, and they never really look back. Something like this had happened in her family previously, as her Great Aunt Resi had married a Jew back in the 1920s. That may have set a precedent, since if her family had difficulty coping with th I have to jump over my own shadow here, and I don't know if I can do that. But I will try. This is the memoir of a German woman who, in the 1980s, in her early 20s, falls in love with Harry, a young Jewish man. This is more than just an infatuation; it's for real, and they never really look back. Something like this had happened in her family previously, as her Great Aunt Resi had married a Jew back in the 1920s. That may have set a precedent, since if her family had difficulty coping with their eventual decision to marry, it's not standing out to me. Harry's family is a different story: the quote at the top is what his father said. The book is told in a direct and matter-of-fact style that is the opposite of histrionics. Therefore the bravery of the author may not be apparent at first. Bravery, because it's easier to keep one's head down and blend in, harder to stand up and be counted. The book isn't scary. I'm speaking of day-to-day bravery, for example, responding to antisemitic comments from two of her friends in reaction to her relationship. Eventually she converts to Orthodox Judaism (modern, not ultra-orthodox), and they move to the US. I don't think that's the hard part; she was born there to her American mother, and there is a communitarian aspect to Orthodox Jewish life. Adaptation doesn't seem to be difficult. Yet adapting to an entire new way of life is what she did. I bought this book Labor Day weekend of 2017 after the author's presentation at the local book festival, but at first I wasn't sure I wanted to read it. I also signed up for author email I wasn't really sure I wanted. The book lingered. Then one of the emails included a recipe I wanted to try -- and even though I had it confused with a recipe from the On The Southern Literary Trail moderator (both recipes sound delicious!) -- the spark to read the book was lit. I want to end with something I learned from this book. The author's grandfather and his family had been living in an area that became Czechoslovakia after the war, when, with Allied acquiescence, Czechoslovakia deported its German minority. People had to report within 24 hours of notification. They were permitted up to 50 kg of luggage. They had to leave their homes in good order, including furnishings and clean linens on the bed. They were transported standing in freight cars that were, at least, heated, with two buckets per car, one for water and the other for a toilet. Whether or not they had been Nazis and because of their ethnicity only. Actually I simultaneously learned about this elsewhere. A New Yorker article in the January 21, 2019 issue on the German filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ("The Lives of Others," "Never Look Away") describes the similar eviction of all Germans from an area that became part of Poland after the war. They had to leave their homes with the key in the lock. The filmmaker's father, who had been being groomed to take over the family's mining and agricultural concerns there, became a refugee at the age of nine.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    I found this book fascinating. The author compares her story of marrying and converting to Judaism with the story of her great aunt whose marriage to a Jew caused problems in the 1930s. I was actually astounded to read how controversial the author's relationship and marriage was, for both sides of the family, during the 1980s. A great tale! I found this book fascinating. The author compares her story of marrying and converting to Judaism with the story of her great aunt whose marriage to a Jew caused problems in the 1930s. I was actually astounded to read how controversial the author's relationship and marriage was, for both sides of the family, during the 1980s. A great tale!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I met the author of this book and was so taken with her, I couldn't wait to read the book. It did not disappoint. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction and the way family stories weave over generations has always fascinated me. Highly recommend. I met the author of this book and was so taken with her, I couldn't wait to read the book. It did not disappoint. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction and the way family stories weave over generations has always fascinated me. Highly recommend.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Pooler

    In a love-conquers–all story, Annette Gendler takes the reader through the complexities and sacrifices of marriage between a Catholic woman and a Jewish man. Ms. Gendler skillfully interweaves the multi-layered story of her great-aunt who defied tradition and married a Jewish man in World War II Germany-- sending repercussions into the next generation--with her own love story. It is in this seamless interweaving of generational stories that she shows the impact of Nazi Germany upon subsequent gen In a love-conquers–all story, Annette Gendler takes the reader through the complexities and sacrifices of marriage between a Catholic woman and a Jewish man. Ms. Gendler skillfully interweaves the multi-layered story of her great-aunt who defied tradition and married a Jewish man in World War II Germany-- sending repercussions into the next generation--with her own love story. It is in this seamless interweaving of generational stories that she shows the impact of Nazi Germany upon subsequent generations of her family and upon her own coming-of-age decision to marry outside her faith. With vivid imagery and rich scenic details she brings the reader into both the past tortuous experience of the Nazi regime upon her family and into her own decision to marry a Jewish man, ultimately converting to Judiasm. Her characters are believable and her grasp of historical details of another time and place make this a fascinating read. It is not a story I read in one sitting as I wanted to absorb all the details but it is a story I was anxious to keep reading. Her writing flows smoothly from scene to scene and across time frames and has relevance from a historical and relationship perspectives. She explores religious differences and what it means to be Jewish, This memoir is an enjoyable, satisfying and educational read. The images of her family members packed into trains to be transported to unknown destinations during World War II Germany will not be forgotten. Despite all the obstacles presented by the past, this couple honors their love and moves on to a happy marriage. I highly recommend this heartwarming love story.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elise Schiller

    I enjoyed this memoir tremendously. Gendler weaves her story with the story of her great-aunt. Both of them fell in love with and married Jewish men, her great-aunt prior to the Nazis, and herself in post-war Germany. The difficulties surrounding these relationships form the "conflict" in the book, and yet the story has a quiet and steady tone. Ms. Gendler comes across as strong and purposeful, but always concerned about the feelings and well-being of those impacted by her choices. There are sat I enjoyed this memoir tremendously. Gendler weaves her story with the story of her great-aunt. Both of them fell in love with and married Jewish men, her great-aunt prior to the Nazis, and herself in post-war Germany. The difficulties surrounding these relationships form the "conflict" in the book, and yet the story has a quiet and steady tone. Ms. Gendler comes across as strong and purposeful, but always concerned about the feelings and well-being of those impacted by her choices. There are satisfying details about the political and the personal in both time periods. Gendler is also a photographer and includes a number of photos that embellish the story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    D Schneider

    Jumping Over Shadows is a memoir that immediately captures and holds the reader, and reading it in one sitting is almost an imperative. As the reader follows the blossoming relationship between the author and her then boyfriend, a German Jewish boy in love with a Christian girl, it is immediately apparent that the challenges of inter-religious dating and marriage are timeless. Take this captivating journey with Annette Gendler as she delves into her past, confronts her present, and creates a fut Jumping Over Shadows is a memoir that immediately captures and holds the reader, and reading it in one sitting is almost an imperative. As the reader follows the blossoming relationship between the author and her then boyfriend, a German Jewish boy in love with a Christian girl, it is immediately apparent that the challenges of inter-religious dating and marriage are timeless. Take this captivating journey with Annette Gendler as she delves into her past, confronts her present, and creates a future that becomes true to herself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Erika Dreifus

    Grateful for an advance review copy that I read in preparation for a Q&A with the author. You'll find that piece here: http://www.erikadreifus.com/resources.... Grateful for an advance review copy that I read in preparation for a Q&A with the author. You'll find that piece here: http://www.erikadreifus.com/resources....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ronna

    3.5 out of 5 stars

  9. 4 out of 5

    Deb Lecos

    Jumping Over Shadows is a powerful and creative telling of the author falling in love with a Jewish man, their eventual marriage, and her conversion to Judaism. Ms. Gendler layers this narrative with the story of her Great Aunt Resi’s marriage to a Jew, just prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany. The author answers the question “Is there any form of love not worth fighting for?” She takes a reader on a journey through her introduction to the Jewish faith and her own questions about what she beli Jumping Over Shadows is a powerful and creative telling of the author falling in love with a Jewish man, their eventual marriage, and her conversion to Judaism. Ms. Gendler layers this narrative with the story of her Great Aunt Resi’s marriage to a Jew, just prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany. The author answers the question “Is there any form of love not worth fighting for?” She takes a reader on a journey through her introduction to the Jewish faith and her own questions about what she believes, the complexities of interfaith relationships, and the horror and pain that has been heaped upon the Jewish people and those that loved them during the Nazi era and the modern world. Throughout this personal and honest memoir, Ms. Gendler beautifully interlaces two time periods, bringing readers along as she learns more about the history of her family. In Czechoslovakia, a few years before the war, the author’s Great Aunt Resi fell in love with a Jewish man at a time when different religions not only kept people apart but, in the ensuing years, being Jewish or related to a Jew got people killed in gas chambers. When the day arrived that Nazis assumed power over their hometown, Resi and her husband Guido had to make a terrible choice for the sake of their children. With that as the tragic backdrop, in Germany 1985, Annette Gendler meets and falls in love with a Jewish man whose family prefers him to marry a woman of the Jewish faith. He is a child of survivors of the Holocaust and she a German shiksa—a non-Jewish woman. They keep their relationship a secret until they are sure the love they have for each other can survive the scrutiny and judgment of an interfaith and intercultural marriage. After the author marries Harry Gendler, she learns the traditions of keeping a Jewish home kosher. As she is schooled in the art of making gefilte fish from her husband’s Aunt Rachel, Ms. Gendler speaks to Harry on the phone in German. Aunt Rachel, who had been imprisoned in a concentration camp, had heard German on many occasions in her past. When the phone call ends, Aunt Rachel wonders aloud why she cannot understand the dialect Annette used. German soldiers had beaten her nearly to death in Auschwitz, their language no doubt a painful reminder. As this illuminating memoir moves through Annette Gendler’s eventual conversion to Judaism, the author reflects on what faith means—not only to her but also to the broader issues our world is currently struggling with. Walls that have been built through separation, both by beliefs and the real bricks stacked between us, cannot stop the force of humanity rising. Germany making it illegal to use or distribute swastikas, perform Nazi salutes, or have statues memorializing Nazis, and the destruction of the wall dividing that country are a testament to what is possible. As I read this story, I reflected on my own obtuseness about history repeating itself until the framework for hate and division are finally deconstructed. As Ms. Gendler has so beautifully conveyed, love is found between our innate humane souls, and it behooves us to accept all people as worthy and allowed to love who they love, and believe what they believe. It is there in that vast space of acceptance that true humanity and peaceful coexistence resides. Love is not contained in a box that separates us, but is rather a doorway to one another. Jumping Over Shadows is a timely and thought-provoking book, one that I urge people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds to read and reread. Intolerance is not sustainable in a society of many people with differing backgrounds. Acceptance is the only humane path forward.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    I typically choose memoirs that I can relate to in some way, but freely admit to choosing Jumping Over Shadows by Annette Gendler because of the love story I expected to find within its pages. Having experienced true love in my own marriage, I enjoy reading about other couple's relationship stories, particularly those that must overcome some obstacle. In this instance, the obstacle was a difference in faith. What I didn't expect, however, was such rich historical detail of Jewish tradition and fa I typically choose memoirs that I can relate to in some way, but freely admit to choosing Jumping Over Shadows by Annette Gendler because of the love story I expected to find within its pages. Having experienced true love in my own marriage, I enjoy reading about other couple's relationship stories, particularly those that must overcome some obstacle. In this instance, the obstacle was a difference in faith. What I didn't expect, however, was such rich historical detail of Jewish tradition and faith. The daughter of an American mother and German father, Annette Gendler was raised in Germany. She met the love of her life in 1985, just three weeks after her father had died. Harry was the son of Jewish Holocaust survivors. One of my favorite paragraphs in the book comes early on, shortly after they'd met at a party. When Annette calls Harry, she gets his answering machine. "Sholem aleichem," was the recorded message, a Yiddish greeting that means "peace upon you," with the you being plural. The author writes: The plural is used even when addressing one person because one person is seen as a multitude of at least one body and one soul. I liked that idea: one person is a multitude. Since my father's death, I had become keenly aware that one person's life connects with so many others, and one person's death takes away not only one life but a whole world. Is it a fair comparison when the author weaves her love story with that of her great-aunt who married a Jew in Czechoslovakia fifty years before? It turns out it is. The couple hides their relationship from Harry's devoutly Jewish parents for three years. When they finally reveal their marriage plans to his parents, Harry's father reveals how unhappy he is with the union. "I have to jump over my own shadow here, and I don't know if I can do that." Gendler does a superb job of seamlessly going back and forth in her narrative, as well as with descriptions of the Jewish traditions to which she is increasingly drawn. Harry makes it perfectly clear that it is out of the question to have non-Jewish children with him. I admit this did bother me, as if he'd drawn a line in the sand. I'm not sure I would have taken too kindly to that kind of ultimatum. Considering how little Annette or her parents had practiced their own faith, however, she would hardly have been described as a devout Christian, or even a lukewarm one. It was not surprising then that she decided to convert before they got married. The author delves into her own family history even as she explores what it means to be, as her boss in American calls her, a "German Jew." Excellent, well-written memoir. by Mary Potter Kenyon for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Roesel

    Annette Gendler tells her personal story in her memoir, JUMPING OVER SHADOWS(SheWritesPress). When Annette falls in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985, history is repeating itself; her great-aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II. That marriage, while happy, meant tremendous difficulties for the extended family, once the Nazis took over their hometown. While Resi’s marriage did not withstand the pressures of “the Nazi times,” Annette and Harry’s love was Annette Gendler tells her personal story in her memoir, JUMPING OVER SHADOWS(SheWritesPress). When Annette falls in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985, history is repeating itself; her great-aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II. That marriage, while happy, meant tremendous difficulties for the extended family, once the Nazis took over their hometown. While Resi’s marriage did not withstand the pressures of “the Nazi times,” Annette and Harry’s love was a nightmare for his family of Holocaust survivors. Burdened by their family histories, she and Harry kept their relationship secret until they could forge a path into the future. Annette is a writer, photographer and blogger. She writes literary nonfiction and focuses on the photography of place. In 2014-15 she had the privilege of serving as writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois. Her essays have appeared in many literary journals, and links can be found under Writing. She regularly writes for the Washington Independent Review of Books and the Jewish Book Council. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. After 15 years of working in consulting, she left the corporate world several years ago. She teaches memoir writing at StoryStudio Chicago and handles communications for her children’s former school. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. http://www.annettegendler.com

  12. 4 out of 5

    Debi Lantzer Stout

    I received this book, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir by Annette Gendler, from BookSparks in connection with their spring book tour, "It's Raining Books".  Unfortunately for me, somehow this book and another one fell to the bottom of a pile of books I had already read and reviewed, and I never noticed it until I was cleaning the book cabinet to make room for more!  While I missed the BookSparks' tour, I still wanted to share the book with readers so they'd know they could run out and pick it up f I received this book, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir by Annette Gendler, from BookSparks in connection with their spring book tour, "It's Raining Books".  Unfortunately for me, somehow this book and another one fell to the bottom of a pile of books I had already read and reviewed, and I never noticed it until I was cleaning the book cabinet to make room for more!  While I missed the BookSparks' tour, I still wanted to share the book with readers so they'd know they could run out and pick it up for themselves since it's already out!  The book is a memoir written by Annette Gendler, who shares her story of falling in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. The interesting fact is that her great Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II.  Her aunt's marriage was a happy one but it was also tremendously difficult for their families when the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938. Their marriage did not survive the pressures of the time. Then there's Annette and her husband, Harry's story - Annette was born in New Jersey to an American mother and a Czechoslovakian father. The family unit consisted of Annette and her siblings, and the family itself basically called themselves Catholic. In her early 20's, she met Harry, who was an Orthodox Jew.  They were burdened with their family histories so they actually kept their relationship a secret for three years so that they could create a new life for themselves in Chicago.  They each knew that a marriage between them was more than likely to shake their families to the core. Harry's family consisted of Holocaust survivors, so their marriage was a nightmare.   Annette shares the steps that she took, the growth in her learning, and how her exploration of Judaism and ultimately finding her "spiritual home" in Judaism, which was a choice for her and it also helped Harry's family find acceptance for her.   In writing this memoir, Annette alternates between scenes between hers and Harry's relationship and the problems involving her great Aunt Resi's marriage.  Jumping Over Shadows is filled with very clear and detailed descriptions of the places that Annette has visited or where she has lived.  If you like family histories and/or books about Jewish history/ancestry, or if you simply love a good love story, then this is a book you will really enjoy.  It is well written and is flows well, which made it a rainy Saturday one sitting reading!  I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookSparks as part of the "It's Raining Books" Tour in exchange for this post. I was not required to post a positive review, but I chose to do so because I enjoyed the book!  Thanks so much!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    A smartly written memoir about the author's life as a young educated German woman who unexpectedly falls in love with Harry, a German Jewish man, the child of Holocaust survivors. They keep their relationship secret for a very long time, not wanting to upset Harry's parents, and also striving to avoid the social discomfort among the close-knit Jewish community where they live in Germany. But as Annette begins to encounter casual anti-Semitism among her friends, she realizes it's time to make her A smartly written memoir about the author's life as a young educated German woman who unexpectedly falls in love with Harry, a German Jewish man, the child of Holocaust survivors. They keep their relationship secret for a very long time, not wanting to upset Harry's parents, and also striving to avoid the social discomfort among the close-knit Jewish community where they live in Germany. But as Annette begins to encounter casual anti-Semitism among her friends, she realizes it's time to make her fateful decision: whether to convert to Judaism to marry Harry or not. I wish the author had devoted more space to discussing how the growing role of Judaism affected Harry and their relationship; before their marriage he had seemingly been very secular, but as a couple they committed to greater Jewish observance. I also wish that she had written more about the ethical precepts of Judaism that I find so beautiful, for example, the emphasis on acts of kindness, on giving charity, of avoiding gossip, and so many others. Instead, she focuses on the "do's and don'ts," which are certainly very real but require context to appreciate. Still, this was a very absorbing and meaningful read, especially as she weaves her own family history -- including its Jewish connections -- along the way.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rita Dragonette

    Annette Gendler’s personal tale of jumping over the shadows of the pasts of both she and the man she loves to fearlessly forge a new future is a unique and compelling view of history you only thought you knew. As a German woman falling for a Jew from a family of still-raw war wounds, this is part Romeo and Juliet, part Shindler’s List, but more profoundly a deeply serious story of a journey that had to happen. Daunted and yet emboldened by the experiences of a star-crossed German/Jewish match in Annette Gendler’s personal tale of jumping over the shadows of the pasts of both she and the man she loves to fearlessly forge a new future is a unique and compelling view of history you only thought you knew. As a German woman falling for a Jew from a family of still-raw war wounds, this is part Romeo and Juliet, part Shindler’s List, but more profoundly a deeply serious story of a journey that had to happen. Daunted and yet emboldened by the experiences of a star-crossed German/Jewish match in her own family, Gendler walks wide-eyed and open-hearted into not only the faith, but the life and significance of what it means to a Jew. Though conversion may have been the price to pay for love, she enters Judaism with the curiosity of a serious academic and researcher, determined to understand and do everything as perfectly as if she were born and raised Jewish. Along the way, the shadows that she’d feared become stepping stones as she realizes not only that she didn’t give anything up, but that this new world has changed her at the cell level as she shapes a new life and family of rich rewards.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Ridley

    A fascinating, well-written memoir about the author's relationship with a Jewish man and her conversion to Judaism, while she explores the ramifications of her own family's history. The narrative moves back and forth between her own romance, beginning when she met her husband-to-be in Germany in the 1980's, and the historical tale of her great-aunt who married a Jew in Czechoslovakia in the 1930's. For many years, Gendler is forced to hide her relationship from her finance's family of Holocaust A fascinating, well-written memoir about the author's relationship with a Jewish man and her conversion to Judaism, while she explores the ramifications of her own family's history. The narrative moves back and forth between her own romance, beginning when she met her husband-to-be in Germany in the 1980's, and the historical tale of her great-aunt who married a Jew in Czechoslovakia in the 1930's. For many years, Gendler is forced to hide her relationship from her finance's family of Holocaust survivors because they will not approve of her being non-Jewish, and half German. Meanwhile, she tries to learn more about how her own family survived under the Nazis. Her account of her conversion and gradual assumption of her new Jewish identity is compelling. I found the historical chapters a bit confusing at times, because it was difficult to remember who was who in the family tree; those characters were not distinct enough for me to keep them clear in my mind, without referring back to earlier sections. But overall, a very interesting read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marlena

    Annette and Harry fall in love in Munich in the 1980s. Only problem: she's German and Catholic; he is a Jew. The couple hides the romance from Harry's family for three years until they are ready to marry. They address Harry's parents forthrightly, overcoming obstacles the older generation lays in their path. Annette has found her man, and Harry has found his woman. It's the stuff of fairy tales. But the book--at heart--is about Annette, her focus and determination to make things work. In conver Annette and Harry fall in love in Munich in the 1980s. Only problem: she's German and Catholic; he is a Jew. The couple hides the romance from Harry's family for three years until they are ready to marry. They address Harry's parents forthrightly, overcoming obstacles the older generation lays in their path. Annette has found her man, and Harry has found his woman. It's the stuff of fairy tales. But the book--at heart--is about Annette, her focus and determination to make things work. In converting to Judaism with an Orthodox rabbi (so that there will be no questions in future) Annette delves deeply into the practices of the faith. She investigates the history of another interfaith marriage in her family's story, unearthing a loving and painful past in Czechoslovakia and Germany during the War. This is the real deal, authentic and direct.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Faith

    This is a wonderfully-candid and well-written memoir. I had the joy of discovering this book about a week ago on Amazon and then realized that I met the author a few times when we were both MFA students in the same creative writing program at Queens University of Charlotte. I admired her writing then and I admire it even more now. Well-researched and compelling work. If you like family histories (especially set in Europe and including WWII up through the 1980s and beyond), books about Germany an This is a wonderfully-candid and well-written memoir. I had the joy of discovering this book about a week ago on Amazon and then realized that I met the author a few times when we were both MFA students in the same creative writing program at Queens University of Charlotte. I admired her writing then and I admire it even more now. Well-researched and compelling work. If you like family histories (especially set in Europe and including WWII up through the 1980s and beyond), books about Germany and/or Jewish history/ancestry, and a good, personal love story, then this book will move you. I read most of this book in a day-- it swept me up and away into a different time and a questing, fascinating tale that is at once articulate and forthright. Bravo, Annette! :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    I'm really disappointed that I didn't like this better. It came very highly recommended by a member of my book club, but it really just didn't do it for me :-(. I personally found the first half too much and very much wrapped up in names that I got confused in. I used a combination of flat out reading and text-to-speech to read this book, and I suppose that could have been a partial source of my disappointment in the book, but I doubt it. I liked that Annette felt the desire and requirement to c I'm really disappointed that I didn't like this better. It came very highly recommended by a member of my book club, but it really just didn't do it for me :-(. I personally found the first half too much and very much wrapped up in names that I got confused in. I used a combination of flat out reading and text-to-speech to read this book, and I suppose that could have been a partial source of my disappointment in the book, but I doubt it. I liked that Annette felt the desire and requirement to convert, but that she took it seriously, despite what one of her ancestors had done in the past. And I saw the mix of World War II and the problem with the Jews, and how that related to her current situation, but I'm not sure I like the way it was handled. I'm sorry.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karla

    I had sworn off books having anything to do with WWII because I felt that the variety of stories just didn't leave a lot left to explore. Although this book isn't set in World War II it refers back to it and I found it to be a very interesting comparison to marriage between a Christian and a Jew during the World War II timeframe versus now. It talks about Annette's path from meeting her future Jewish husband, to marrying him and how the interactions within her family and his resonated with both I had sworn off books having anything to do with WWII because I felt that the variety of stories just didn't leave a lot left to explore. Although this book isn't set in World War II it refers back to it and I found it to be a very interesting comparison to marriage between a Christian and a Jew during the World War II timeframe versus now. It talks about Annette's path from meeting her future Jewish husband, to marrying him and how the interactions within her family and his resonated with both of their ancestral pasts. It's an easy read but it has hung with me the past few days since I put the book down. With my own German ancestry it makes me consider what my life might have been in a similar situation. It's a thought-provoking memoir.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    "The story of the past is only interesting in as far as it resonates in the present." This is a really interesting memoir by a local Chicago author. The daughter of an American mother and a German father, she was raised in Munich, Germany. In 1985 she met and fell in love with a Jewish man, who was also raised in Munich, and they kept their relationship and plans for marriage a secret for 3 years. Gendler weaves her story together with the story of her parents, grandparents and great-grandparent "The story of the past is only interesting in as far as it resonates in the present." This is a really interesting memoir by a local Chicago author. The daughter of an American mother and a German father, she was raised in Munich, Germany. In 1985 she met and fell in love with a Jewish man, who was also raised in Munich, and they kept their relationship and plans for marriage a secret for 3 years. Gendler weaves her story together with the story of her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and the story of her great-aunt who was forced to divorce her Jewish husband when the Nuremberg laws were imposed.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Reyna Gentin

    I wasn't expecting to be able to relate to this memoir about a young German woman who falls in love with a Jewish man in the 1980's in Germany, defying the wishes of his family. But this is much more than a story about an enduring and deep love; it is about defying the odds and turning one's whole life around. The author's journey is about more than her personal relationship, it is a transformation in a religious context as well. It is about commitment to a person, to oneself, and to God. I foun I wasn't expecting to be able to relate to this memoir about a young German woman who falls in love with a Jewish man in the 1980's in Germany, defying the wishes of his family. But this is much more than a story about an enduring and deep love; it is about defying the odds and turning one's whole life around. The author's journey is about more than her personal relationship, it is a transformation in a religious context as well. It is about commitment to a person, to oneself, and to God. I found it inspiring as an observant Jew, even as I was hesitant to allow myself to be so.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I've always loved memoirs especially those that are portals to a historical time/place, and not merely the person. This memoir grasps the reader early on and holds interest through humor, cultural history, and a feel- good expectation that doesn't disappoint. You are rooting for this young couple (while their relationship was hidden) almost as if you were in on their "necessary" secret. I also enjoyed the family recipes that work as a reminder of the importance of preserving each of our own fami I've always loved memoirs especially those that are portals to a historical time/place, and not merely the person. This memoir grasps the reader early on and holds interest through humor, cultural history, and a feel- good expectation that doesn't disappoint. You are rooting for this young couple (while their relationship was hidden) almost as if you were in on their "necessary" secret. I also enjoyed the family recipes that work as a reminder of the importance of preserving each of our own family's culinary history.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Jumping Over Shadows is a thoughtful story of love and faith, as well as the difficulties that both can cause across generations. Annette Gendler intertwines her own journey with that of her great aunt, set against the backdrops of World War II and its fallout. In addition to their romances and consequent hurdles, the reader is treated to an important and beautifully told history of the pre- and post-WWII treatment of the European Jewish population. A compelling read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Reikista

    Jumping Over Shadows is a captivating, deeply personal story of the journey the author as a young German/American woman in her relationship with a Jewish man, and also the story of her grandparents and forbears during the Nazi regime in what is now the Czech Republic. The stories are alive with discovery, mystery, and growth and they pulled me along even beyond my fascination with identity and it's relationship to history. There is much heart in this beautiful book! Jumping Over Shadows is a captivating, deeply personal story of the journey the author as a young German/American woman in her relationship with a Jewish man, and also the story of her grandparents and forbears during the Nazi regime in what is now the Czech Republic. The stories are alive with discovery, mystery, and growth and they pulled me along even beyond my fascination with identity and it's relationship to history. There is much heart in this beautiful book!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlene

    This book carefully reconstructs the author's personal lineage and personal cross overs between herself, a German woman with a Jewish man. Further, Gendler knows she is not the first in her family to have loved against the odds. This book seesaws between that past generation of lovers and Gendler's own personal exploration as she and her husband learn to hold each other despite the world's views. In the end, this book describes beautifully how love conquers all. This book carefully reconstructs the author's personal lineage and personal cross overs between herself, a German woman with a Jewish man. Further, Gendler knows she is not the first in her family to have loved against the odds. This book seesaws between that past generation of lovers and Gendler's own personal exploration as she and her husband learn to hold each other despite the world's views. In the end, this book describes beautifully how love conquers all.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emily Dagostino

    I read this beautiful and compelling memoir in three days. The writing is honest and clear. The story of love and history is captivating, and illustrates what it's like to be, and to become, a minority. In my lifetime, the lessons and perspective this book generously imparts have never been more important to understand. I highly recommend it. I read this beautiful and compelling memoir in three days. The writing is honest and clear. The story of love and history is captivating, and illustrates what it's like to be, and to become, a minority. In my lifetime, the lessons and perspective this book generously imparts have never been more important to understand. I highly recommend it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Chadwick

    A journey in finding her place to be, Gendler succinctly unfolds her story in the wake of her own ancestry dating back to pre-World War II. Extensive research is shown in her writing and in the end her interwoven reflections and self-examination bring her to her true home, with her husband Harry and with Judaism.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Annette Gendler, born a Catholic, tells the true story of how she met her husband, a German Jew in 1985. Born to an American mother and German father, the author grew up in Germany and met Harry, whose family included Holocaust survivors. We learn the history of both families, and the author's journey as she converts to Judaism. Written well, this is a very good read. Annette Gendler, born a Catholic, tells the true story of how she met her husband, a German Jew in 1985. Born to an American mother and German father, the author grew up in Germany and met Harry, whose family included Holocaust survivors. We learn the history of both families, and the author's journey as she converts to Judaism. Written well, this is a very good read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Geeta Ramani

    Jumping Over Shadows by Annette Gendler is a love story in the backdrop of the holocaust. With so much historical religious discrimination, this love story must come as a breath of hope and renewed coexistence. But a change of religion post marriage has never appealed to me. However if that resulted in happiness of the couple in question, who am I to comment?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Perfectly fine, not especially compelling. Found the last few chapters of the book about her rediscovering her family history the most interesting part as opposed to more random observations about her conversion.

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