STARRED REVIEW
September 2017

Resilience and hope

By Nicholas Sparks
Review by

The Choice is more than an eloquent memoir by Holocaust survivor and psychologist Edith Eva Eger. It is an exploration of the healing potential of choice. When someone chooses to harm us, our sense of self can later be overwhelmed by the memory of that pain. But Eger, who has helped countless trauma patients, believes that we can regain our autonomy by choosing to confront the past—a lesson she learned from her own experience.

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The Choice is more than an eloquent memoir by Holocaust survivor and psychologist Edith Eva Eger. It is an exploration of the healing potential of choice. When someone chooses to harm us, our sense of self can later be overwhelmed by the memory of that pain. But Eger, who has helped countless trauma patients, believes that we can regain our autonomy by choosing to confront the past—a lesson she learned from her own experience.

When Eger was 16, Josef Mengele, the abhorrent Auschwitz physician, made horrific choices for her. He chose for Eger to live and sent her parents to die. That same day, he chose Eger to dance “The Blue Danube” for his entertainment. Although a prisoner, Eger infused that dance with all the joy that dancing always brought her. Mengele gave her a loaf of bread as a reward for her bravura performance. Eger shared the loaf with the other prisoners, and later, a girl who had eaten that bread chose to help Eger, saving her life as a result. The ability to choose, even though those choices were circumscribed by an electrified fence, gave Eger the strength to survive.

After the war, she repressed these memories to spare others the pain of her experience. Wracked with guilt for having survived when so many perished, Eger watched her marriage crumble. Another choice confronted her: Stay mired in the past, or face it and learn to live in the present. Her journey took her back to Auschwitz, where she unlocked the last and darkest memory of that first day, and forgave not only her tormentors but also, and most importantly, herself.

Eger is not suggesting that she is unscarred by her experience, but that she lives a life filled with grace. The Choice is not a how-to book; it is, however, an invitation to choose to live life fully.

 

This article was originally published in the September 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Choice

The Choice

By Nicholas Sparks
Hachette Audio
ISBN 9781600240171

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