Dr. Edith Eva Eger (with Esme Schwall Weigand)
Not many memoirs can be described as “page-turners,” but Dr. Edith Eva Eger’s The Choice is an exception. Her life story begins as a sixteen-year-old budding ballerina/gymnast and segues to her imprisonment at Auschwitz. Her tale continues through her post-war existence in America where she must learn to deal with survivor’s guilt and PTSD, but these challenges inspire her to learn more about the human mind. The reader is taken for a non-stop adventure into the soul of a vibrant woman who struggles with what life gave her, and the choices she makes to live life to its fullest.
. . . a book everyone should read and share with others.
Young Edie enjoys growing up in Kosice (Kassa). They live well as Hungarian Jews at the outbreak of war in Europe. She and her sisters learn music and dance, and Edith falls in love with Eric. Her family is offered a way to leave the country, but they want to stay close to where Edith’s older sister Klara is studying violin in Budapest. The night after Passover, Edith and her family are taken away from their home and eventually arrive at Auschwitz. She and her oldest sister Magda are separated from their mother. The two sisters cling to each other for comfort in the nightmare that becomes their existence for over a year, knowing that their parents were probably killed the first day, and not knowing what became of Klara.
Eventually Edith (near death and with a broken back) and Magda are liberated by American GIs. They return home and miraculously find Klara there. (She survived through her virtuoso violinist skills and the kindness of her teachers.) Edith wants to forget the horrors they all experienced and live a normal life, but marriage to Bela and then giving birth to her daughter Marianne doesn’t quite take away her fears and pain. Forced from Hungary by the Communists, she and Bela decide to go to Israel, but Edith can’t stand the idea of raising her child in another war zone. They immigrate to America instead, first to Baltimore and then El Paso. Edith’s fears and flashbacks follow her.
This is where The Choice makes its biggest impact on the reader, when Edith decides to study psychology and use her own traumatic experiences to help others heal. She learns to forgive herself and those who have wronged her (including Hitler and Mengele), freeing herself from the burden of vengeance. She presents several examples of how she demonstrates her philosophy to her clients. Our minds can imprison us in the what could have been or if only this happens, but we can confront our suffering and set ourselves free if we choose to no longer allow the past or future to dictate our present.
We can choose to heal Dr. Eger tells us through her words and examples. The Choice is a book everyone should read and share with others.
For more information: http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Choice/Edith-Eva-Eger/9781501130786