Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Channa and Nathan grew up during the Holocaust. They had to endure a very harsh childhood and grew up very quickly due to their circumstances. Channa was able to avoid the concentration camps, but had to learn survival techniques in order to do so. She spent many years with her brother finding shelter and food where they could and killing any opposition they ran across.

Nathan, on the other hand, went to the camps almost immediately. Because he was an able looking male, he was able to avoid the gas chambers, but was shipped from camp to camp doing various hard labor. He failed in his attempts to escape a few times, but was finally successful and hid out, waiting for the war to end.

Channa and Nathan have since moved to America, married and had children, but the habits they learned due to the horrors they had to endure have not disappeared. Jaclyn and her four siblings grow up in a household governed by behaviours required to survive the Holocaust and their mother enforces these behaviours daily. However, nobody knows the full level of dysfunction until their mother dies and they learn of the contents of her will. Upon finding out what their mother has left behind, a war between the siblings is what really tears everyone apart.

Broken Birds is more than the typical story of a dysfunctional family. It unfolds everything to reveal the how’s and why’s of the problem. Channa and Nathan must tell their story before Jaclyn can even begin to tell hers. The things Channa and Nathan had to go through in order to survive tell us so much more about why Jaclyn and her siblings act the way they do. Jaclyn was born well after the Holocaust, but it still had a great impact on her life.

Jeannette Katzir is a child of Holocaust survivors herself and put a lot of her own personal experience into this story. Katzir did a beautiful job explaining how an event like the Holocaust not only affects the people who endured it personally, but the generations following. The trauma from that event can be heartbreaking until someone is brave enough and strong enough to stop the cycle. I thoroughly enjoyed Broken Birds and would recommend it to anyone interested in the stories of Holocaust survivors.

Rating: 3.5/5

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, 2 sons, 2 cats, and 2 dogs. She goes to school full time as an English major with a focus in creative writing. She likes anime and reads books and plays video games in her moments of spare time.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Jeannette Katzir. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.