In 2009, Rachael Cerrotti, a college student pursuing a career in photojournalism, asked her grandmother, Hana, if she could record her story. Rachael knew that her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and the only one in her family alive at the end of the war. Rachael also knew that she survived because of the kindness of strangers. It wasn’t a secret. Hana spoke about her history publicly and regularly. But, Rachael wanted to document it as only a granddaughter could. So, that’s what they did: Hana talked and Rachael wrote.
Upon Hana’s passing in 2010, Rachael discovered an incredible archive of her life. There were preserved albums and hundreds of photographs dating back to the 1920s. There were letters waiting to be translated, journals, diaries, deportation and immigration papers as well as creative writings from various stages of Hana’s life.
Rachael digitized and organized it all, plucking it from the past and placing it into her present. Then, she began retracing her grandmother’s story, following her through Central Europe, Scandinavia, and across the United States. She tracked down the descendants of those who helped save her grandmother’s life during the war. Rachael went in pursuit of her grandmother’s memory to explore how the retelling of family stories becomes the history itself.
We Share the Same Sky weaves together the stories of these two young women—Hana as a refugee who remains one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and Rachael, whose insatiable curiosity to touch the past guides her into the lives of countless strangers, bringing her love and tragic loss. Throughout the course of her twenties, Hana’s history becomes a guidebook for Rachael in how to live a life empowered by grief.
"First in her mesmerizing podcast and now with this stunning book, Rachael Cerrotti has re-defined the art of bearing witness. Balancing meticulous devotion to the inherited past with luminous attention to the unfolding present, WE SHARE THE SAME SKY maps an astonishing journey of tenacity and transformation. Among myriad narratives in the post-Holocaust landscape, this work is a dazzling beacon."
-- Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Cafe
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Learn more at www.RachaelCerrotti.com and www.ShareTheSameSky.com
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We Share the Same Sky by Rachael Cerrotti is a stunning account written by the author describing the fascinating, haunting, and beautiful life of her grandmother, Hana, whom was amongst many things, a Holocaust survivor. Through a collection of interviews, letters, archives, photos, extensive research, and discussions, the author has pieces together the life of her grandmother...and in this long process, she was also able to start the journey into finding herself. Through her book, I was easily able to see Hana as an incredible, brave, fierce, intelligent, determined, beautiful, and lasting soul that survived not only atrocity after atrocity, but also lived a life worth loving and experiencing afterwards. I was in awe of Hana, and her story is paramount to remembering all of our people that were loved, lost, triumphed, and were affected during this horrific time. I am so blessed that Rachael has been gracious enough to share her family’s story with me. I will forever remember and cherish this journey. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Blackstone Publishing for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
This book was INCREDIBLE! Everyone should read this absolutely riveting book that reads like a novel, but is in fact, completely true. This story is full of courage, and I am in awe of Rachael Carrotti's grandmother.
We Share the Same Sky by Rachael Cerrotti is a beautiful, personal memoir about shared family history and memory. In 2009, the author asked her grandmother Hana if she could record and document her story. Hana was a Holocaust survivor and the only person alive in her family after World War 2. Hana had survived because of the sacrifice of her parents, her own courage and the kindness of strangers. In her quest to trace the footsteps of her grandmother, Rachael discovers photographs, letters, journal entries, immigration papers and Hana’s own creative writing pieces. Following this paper trail Rachael travelled through Central Europe, Scandinavia and the United States in order to understand her grandmothers journey with more clarity. In the authors own travels there is hope, love, grief and pain but through her connection with her grandmother and her legacy Rachael finds a way not to just survive but to find happiness in the deep currents of life. It is a story of entwined lives and joint discovery as Rachael meets and shares stories with the descendants of the people who saved her grandmother’s life. A moving, hopeful book that I would recommend to all readers.
This book was well-written and absorbing. Rachael goes on a journey to retrace the steps of her European Grandmother, Hana, during the Holocaust. Along the way, Rachael meets the descendants of people who knew and helped her Grandmother, and they become a community of friends. What Rachael didn't count on was meeting a young man from Poland who isn't Jewish but who loves Israel and becomes her best friend. Later, the two marry, only to find their happiness interrupted. Rachel did not set out to write her own story, but her and her Grandmother's stories become interlaced with grief and strength. By the book's end, Rachael is so much wiser, connected to others, and grateful than she was when she started this project.
This book was so interesting. I really loved the writing and the story portrayal. I wanted to cry pretty much the entire time. Excellent.
I resisted reading We Share the Same Sky for as long as I could since reading such books about Holocaust survivors and their descendants who trace their family history are two of my most favorite genres. Cerrotti was fortunate that her grandmother left her a treasure trove of photographs, letters, and journals to document her life. She was sent to Denmark so it was an interesting angle of a survivor, one that it not often told. Rachael retraced her grandmother’s journey herself, several,times, forming deep deep connections and bonds with her the families that had aided her. It’s a poignant tribute to a much loved woman by a granddaughter who finds a bit of herself and suffers loss in the process.
This is a well written story about the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor who decides to write her grandmother’s story. But she also goes one better and retraces her footsteps by going to Europe and visiting all of the same places her grandmother went during and after the war. It's such a touching thing to do in her grandmother’s memory, and really makes the whole thing come together. I couldn’t get enough of this book, it shared so much of Hana’s original journey. The author even looked up the families of the people who had helped Hana during the war, to keep her safe and well. I think it’s a wonderful book, very readable. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rachael Cerrotti, and the publisher.
I didn't know much about this book going into it but I was surprised to learn it was about a holocaust survivor, one of my favorite stories to read about! I always tell people it sounds really weird to say it's my favorite subject because the stories are heartbreaking, but I feel a need to hear as many stories as I can. I feel strongly that we owe it to the survivors to hear what they experienced, to honor their loved ones who didn't make it out, and to educate our children on the events that happened at the camps. Rachael shares the story of her grandmother who lived in Czech. Hannah wrote a beautiful diary with all the details of her life growing up and her story of loosing her family at the camps. How special to have these letters to treasure! To honor her grandmother Rachael travels to the home Hannah grew up, met friends and family Hannah grew up with, and even went to the camp to experience what it looked like. In the middle of sharing Hannahs story Rachael suffers a terrible loss of her own, one that will surely rock the reader, I know it did me. In an entry Hannah writes; I often wonder does it mean anything to this generation, if it penetrates, or leaves any impact, does it concern them at all because it happened so long ago, they have there own problems to deal with" I for one care, and I will do my part in honoring your story and sharing it with my kids so that you're not forgot. Thank you Racheal for sharing your story and honoring your grandmother in such a beautiful book.
I have been devouring many books lately that are based during the second World War, but We Share the Same Sky is set apart in my mind, touching me deeply. The heart and detail that Rachael put in this this story is apparent from the first words written. She has an incredible way of pulling you into the dual narrative, an incredible journey of Rachael walking the walk that her grandmother, Hana, a Holocaust survivor, walked. I have never read such a harrowing tale! To actually meet the people that her late grandmother met, to see the same landscape, and truly immerse herself in her grandmother's life is just astounding! It made me crave to do the same with my family, and actually has inspired me to document my own parents and grandparents journeys as much as possible. You can feel the heart and passion that went into this project, and it is so well written that you feel as if you too are on the journey. Though there is tragedy in varying forms throughout this novel, there is also a silver lining, a harrowing story of a Holocaust survivor who lost everything, yet found her way to prosperity in family and love. Beauty from the ashes... Hana was such an incredible woman and her story was one that needed to be told. I am so thankful that Rachael took on this passion project and highly recommend We Share the Same Sky to anyone who wants to see the past and the present so masterfully intertwined, and to hear one unbelievable journey.
Rachael, a granddaughter who has accepted the baton passed from her grandmother Hana, has written both her grandmother's story and her own as she's lived it up to the writing of this book. She travels widely, wanting to fit her feet in the footsteps of Hana, and to try and understand what it was to be in the very places, spaces, that her grandmother had been. She pours through mountains of materials left by Hana. Rachael successfully endeavors to evoke a sense of Hana's journeys, hopes and griefs. Hana's path was winding and full of furtive starts and stops in order to avoid the Nazi shadow that tried to prevent all from independent movement. Heroes appear in the telling of her story, from individuals to nations, who wholeheartedly make place and space for the desperate people escaping from invaded territories by any means possible. Rachael's path is woven from later cloth around the earlier pattern of her grandmother's path, and is interesting and holds a reader's attention as her relationships complete the bridge-making her grandmother started. A great read, illustrating some of what has come of those terrific sacrifices made by those who escaped and survived Hitler and his dreadful nightmare: Generations whose hearts truly are turned to their fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. A sincere thanks to Rachael Cerrotti, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC to read and review. #WeSharetheSameSky #NetGalley