FOR AS LONG as she can
remember, Georgia Hunter
has been a writer. At age ;, in
homage to her father Thomas
Hunter’s ;;;; sci-fi book,
Softly Walks the Beast, she
penned her first novel, calling it Charlie Walks the Beast.
When she was ;;, she
pitched an opinion piece to her hometown newspaper; since that debut in the Attleboro,
Massachusetts, Sun Chronicle, her personal
essays and photos have been featured in The New
York Times’ “Why We Travel” column, in travel
girl magazine and on Equitrekking.com.
At ;;, the seeds for her epic historical novel,
We Were the Lucky Ones, were planted when a
high school teacher assigned an I-Search project
for students to explore their ancestry. Over an
afternoon spent talking with her grandmother,
Hunter—who was not being raised in the Jewish
faith—was surprised to learn that she came from
a family of Holocaust survivors.
“I had no idea that my grandfather was
Polish-born, much less Jewish,” shares the
author, whose book was named one of the “Best
Books to Read in ;;;;” by Glamour and Harper’s
Bazaar. She didn’t think about the project for
another six years, until she attended a family
reunion, when additional stories of the war were
revealed. “I knew then that I needed to investigate and write about what happened,” she says.
Armed with a digital voice recorder and a
Moleskine notebook, Hunter set off on a nine-
year journey that took her around the globe. The
result is her acclaimed book starring her ances-
tors, the Kurc family.
From the first page, readers are catapulted to
the spring of ;;;;. In the small Polish town of
Radom, ;; miles from Warsaw, the close-knit
clan is living under the cloud of the looming war.
By the end of the ;;;-page novel, readers have
traveled from the jazz clubs of Paris to Krakow’s
most brutal prison to the ports of Northern
Africa and the far reaches of the Siberian gulag.
Does the Kurc family reunite, as they promise each other they will?
“Without giving away too much of the plot, I
can tell you that in real life my family is some-
what of a statistical anomaly,” Hunter, now ;;,
tells The Connection. “I can only imagine how
hard it must have been for my relatives to keep
putting one foot in front of the other, to stay one
step ahead of danger and to remain hopeful that
they may see each other again.”
Walking in their footsteps was essential,
Hunter insists, noting some of the most poi-
gnant moments of her research were the hours
she spent in Radom: “I felt drawn to visit, but
was scared to go. But I found a quaint town with
beautiful cobblestone streets, wrought-iron
lamps and red poppy flowers spilling out over
balconies, and understood why my great-grand-
parents had chosen to raise a family there.”
Hunter also visited the empty square where
Radom’s synagogue once stood, along with the
old Jewish cemetery, which, before World War
II, was populated with thousands of headstones.
Only a handful exist today, as the majority were
ripped up by Nazis to build an airstrip. “While
Radom felt surprisingly livable, it also left me
with a very haunting, chilling feeling of ghosts
being all around me,” Hunter acknowledges.
Hunter hopes to inspire others to go on their
own I-Search expeditions. “It’s incredibly
rewarding to look back in time, to put your relatives on a map in a time frame, then research
that era and think, what was it like to live back
then? If you have the chance, ask questions of
your relatives and write your findings down in a
notebook or an online blog. It’ll be your gift to
future generations.” C
Hope Katz Gibbs is a journalist living in northern
Virginia whose ancestors hail from Kiev.
I’M ABOUT AS sentimental as
they come. It’s not just stories
about my family that pull at me
and have me tearing up faster
than you can say “reunion.” I’m
ready to listen to or read about
any family saga—fact or fiction. First-time novelist Georgia
Hunter delivers just the kind of
story I love in this month’s
book buyer’s pick, We Were
the Lucky Ones.
In a novel spanning many
years and countries, Hunter
tells the story of the Kurc family, which is split apart at the
outset of World War II. The rest
of the novel follows the family
as they fight to reconnect.
The fact that this book is
inspired by her family’s story
makes it all the more touching.
We Were the Lucky Ones
(Item #1213108) will be available in early January in most
For more book picks,
see page 107.
—Pennie Clark Ianniciello,
Author finds inspiration in ancestors
who survived the Holocaust
Costco has 50 signed copies of Georgia Hunter’s
We Were the Lucky Ones to give away. To enter,
go to costcoconnectionbookgiveaway.com.
NO PURCHASE, PAYMENT OR OPT-IN OF ANY KIND IS
NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPS TAKES.
Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Sweepstakes
is sponsored by Costco Wholesale, 1045 Lake Drive,
Issaquah, WA 98027. Open to legal residents of the U. S.
(except Puerto Rico) who are age 18 or older at the time of
entry. One entry per household. Entries must be received
before the February issue is available online, which will
happen around January 26, 2018. Winners will be randomly
selected and noti;ed by mail on or before March 1, 2018.
The value of the prize is $16. Void where prohibited. Winners
are responsible for all applicable federal, state and local
taxes. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible
entries received. Employees of Costco or Penguin Random
House and their families are not eligible.
SIGNED BOOK GIVEAWAY