Saturday, July 2, 2016

G728 Book Review of Bela's letters by Jeff Ingber

Name of Book: Bela's Letters

Author:Jeff Ingber

ISBN: 9780985410025

Publisher: Self published

Type of book: Hungary, Carpathian Mountains, Judaism, 1928-2003, Holocaust, large family, siblings, closeness, post WWII, WWII, labor camp, New York, America, reactions to Holocaust, abandonment, hiding, Israel, life events, Concentration Camps

Year it was published: 2016


Through personal narrative and letters preserved for decades, Béla’s Letters tells the remarkable story of a large Eastern European family torn apart by war and the Holocaust, the extraordinary circumstances that each family member endures, and the survivors’ struggle to come to terms with the feelings of guilt, hatred, fear, and abandonment that haunt them.


There are honestly a lot of characters, both major and minor ones. The main character is Bela, fifth child of Kalman Ingber and Eszter Mermelstein. He is resourceful, a hard worker, intelligent and loyal to family and friends. At the same time, in beginning, he tends to be afraid of change and always puts his family above even his spouse. There is also Joska Ingber, the elder brother who is incredibly loyal to the family and will do whatever he can  for his siblings. Adolph Ingber is the younger sibling and he is one that leaves things for better or worse. Miki strikes me as the type that's defiant and angry at the world and also protectively loyal to women in his life. I feel that very little is known of Libu aside from the impression I have of her as someone who seems to carry a lot of anxiety. Marika also is a main character and personally for me she seems to struggle with learning to be part of Bela's family.


There are no neatly wrapped packages in life


The story is in the first person narrative from Bela's point of view. The reader starts in 1928 and meets Bela and his family and also is a witness to Jewish community prior to WWII and how it lived and functioned in Carpathian Mountains. Afterwards, with Bela, the reader becomes a witness to fighting to stay alive in a labor camp and later on learning about the Holocaust and picking up pieces afterwards. Although I enjoyed the book a great deal, I do feel that a few things need to be worked on; one being the characters and the other a minor plot point. I often felt that the characters' pesonalities were more often "tell" than "show". Also one of the brothers was married twice, but the first wedding is more off-scene while I felt that it should have been included in the book

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)


About the Author

Jeff is a financial industry consultant, who previously held senior positions at Citibank, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. His latest book is “Bela’s Letters,” a family memoir based on his parents, who were survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust. Jeff also has written a screenplay entitled “The Bank Examiners.” He lives with his wife in Jersey City, NJ.
For more information visit Jeff Ingber’s website. You can also connect with him onFacebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Clocking in at 572 pages, Bela's letters appears to be what is called a door-stopper. But despite the almost 600 pages, its easy to get into and easy to read and one finds the pages quickly passing by. While reading the story, I found it  saddening when I looked at its meaning in a larger context and what it means for the world. My father is twelve years removed from the end date of WWII; I was born forty years after WWII is over, and my own child was born 70 years after the end of WWII. Those that have experienced the horrors of WWII are dying away and their memories of those times are being erased. Philosophically speaking, it's strange on how lessons die out and how important it is to keep them alive somehow. Its frightening to think about how we will be treated so casually by schools in the future.  I do appreciate how the author tackled the subject of Holocaust as well as what it means to the European Jewry. Living in modern times, its easy to forget that people in the past don't have the benefit of prescience, which is important to remember when asking the very important "why" questions. It also was interesting to see myriad of reactions towards Judaism that the siblings exhibit after WWII; some towards embracing it, others abandoning it or even hiding it. I do feel that the characters could have been worked upon more, but other than that, a very memorable read that I plan on sharing with my child when the time will be right. Also as well, if the reader is hoping to read a book that ties everything neatly together, then this book doesn't do that, but instead its like life where questions have no answers.

This is for HFVBT

Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, May 25
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Friday, May 27
Spotlight at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Saturday, May 28
Spotlight at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Monday, May 30
Excerpt at Diana’s Book Reviews
Tuesday, May 31
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Friday, June 3
Spotlight at The True Book Addict
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book
Monday, June 6
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, June 7
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, June 8
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Interview at New Horizon Reviews
Thursday, June 9
Guest Post at New Horizon Reviews
Friday, June 10
Review at New Horizon Reviews
Monday, June 13
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight at It’s a Mad Mad World
Thursday, June 16
Review at Nerd in New York
Friday, June 17
Spotlight at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, June 21
Excerpt & Giveaway at Queen of All She Reads
Wednesday, June 22
Review at Bookish
Spotlight at The Mad Reviewer
Thursday, June 23
Spotlight at Beth’s Book Nook Blog
Friday, July 1
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, July 4
Blog Tour Wrap Up at Passages to the Past

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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