Based on the true stories of children stolen during wartime, this novel raises questions of complicity and responsibility, belonging and identity, good intentions and unforeseen consequences, as it confronts what it really means to find home.
Appears at first alluringly simple. In straightforward prose adorned with a poetic sensibility, Rosner intertwines three narratives about displaced children ping-ponging across Europe and Israel during World War II and its aftermath ... Rosner’s project in Once We Were Home transcends even her abundant storytelling gifts. Over time, Rosner’s characters find themselves at the vortex of complex legal, moral, and philosophical questions ... The poignant plot and the overwhelmingly sympathetic characters of Once We Were Home — constrained by circumstances, struggling for agency — are fictional, and the novel’s concerns universal ... Rosner’s juxtaposed narratives, moving fluidly through the decades, seem disconnected. But even before her characters intersect, familiar objects — a dreidel, nesting dolls, exquisitely carved chess pieces — keep popping up in prefatory monologues and the stories themselves ... Rosner immerses readers in her characters’ efforts to understand their origins, their emotions, and their religious beliefs. She channels their voices as they struggle to find a stable identity.
While many books have been written about children transported to various places for safety during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s moving, well-researched second novel takes a penetrating look at the myriad murky moral choices involved ... At first, it’s puzzling to understand how Renata’s 1968 life relates to those of Roger, Ana and Oskar, but by the book’s conclusion, the connection is clear. Rosner does an excellent job of not judging the actions that adults take on behalf of her child characters while also deeply exploring the consequences.
Rosner’s... moving story about identity, family, and the meaning of home explores the little-known story of the stolen children of World War II ... An excellent addition to historical fiction collections.