Here is a book of many parts, all fascinating.
Maria Sutton wanted to have a history or sense of belonging. As a child, while attending her mother's citizenship ceremony in Denver, she is called a Dirty DP! A few years later she overhears a conversation that reveals that her father is not the kind, hardworking man to whom her mother is married, but a complete stranger named Jozef Kurek. Thus begins her 40-some year search for family, a quest begun with romantic naivetÃ© which falters but never fails despite the hard truths she encounters.
Through heartwarming family reunions and heartbreaking family revelations, with the aid of a retired Russian KGB agent, Polish genealogists, Ukrainian translators, Dachau archives, a half dozen flights to far away lands and, eventually, with the blessings of Google, email and the generous support of those she meets along the way, Maria Sutton pursues and finds family. (In deed, the reader would not be surprised to find his own long lost Aunt Maud appearing on the next page.)
And Maria Sutton has an extraordinary family to find, if only for the reason that they have survived (or not survived) one of the worst periods of Eastern European history. Just as in Timothy Snyder's highly praised history Bloodlands, Maria's search illuminates the enormity of the atrocities suffered by Ukrainians and Poles under both Stalin and Hitler. Whether it is worse to be sent to Siberia or Germany as slave laborer or to have one's head cut off and mounted on a village post by SS or Russian soldiers, was not really a matter of debate for Maria Sutton's family. It simply happened and if, in later years, their stories get a bit tangled that does not deny the reality.
When one reads about the plight of the displaced refugees in Germany at the end of WWII, confined to crowded, filthy, numbingly boring camps, desperate to avoid being sent back to their Soviet ruled homeland, equally desperate to emigrate to the USA or Australia or wherever life might begin anew, one can understand the contentment that four year old Maria felt sitting on the stoop of a two-room shack with a private outhouse in Golden, Colorado in 1952 and looking up at the night sky.
The persistent innocence that permeates her life-long quest is not shared by her mother, Julia. When Julia does disclose something of her past, her stories are often at odds with one another. But one thing is certain: when Jozef abandons her in the refugee camp and the two little girls are candidates for adoption, she refuses. As she often says to them, I didn't give you up. And so it is with great admiration that we read Maria Sutton's dedication to Julia, my mother, the real hero of this story.
In that respect, the author is certainly her mother's child. --BookReview.com