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Becoming Alice: A Memoir

Becoming Alice: A Memoir Cover

ISBN13: 9781605280219
ISBN10: 1605280216
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Strongly recommended a deftly written memoir that will hold the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. -Midwest Book Review Her ability to authentically capture the bewilderment and pain of dislocation through a child's eyes including the disharmony in her immediate family makes for engaging reading that will resonate with young adults everywhere. -Beth B. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Case Closed: Holocaust Survivors in America, 1946-1954 Six-year-old Ilse watches Nazi soldiers march down her street in Vienna, Austria. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will take her to Riga, Latvia, and finally to Portland, Oregon. Becoming Alice chronicles her Jewish family's harrowing escape and struggle as immigrants to fit into the American landscape. The added problems of growing up within a troubled family cloud her childhood and adolescence. Ilse changes her name to Alice. Not until she moves into a boarding house in Berkeley, surrounded by girls from a patchwork of cultures, does she make peace with her true identity. Becoming Alicebrilliantly showcases Rene's triumph over adversity, identity crisis, and the sometimes debilitating power of family ties.

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evalowen, August 1, 2012 (view all comments by evalowen)
Although this memoir was written by Alice Renee about growing up in Portland, Oregon nobody I know personally was aware of her, nor had anybody heard of her book. I found out about it through a family member living in California.
Both of us were refugees from Hitler's Europe and I too had many similar experiences and memories growing up in Portland during the forties and fifties.
It is still a mystery to me that memoir writers have such terrific recall, down to the color of the shoes they wore in Kindergarten. I guess that is what makes these tales memoirs and not autobiographies.
To be understanding of what happens when one is displaced from one's home of origin, books like that are very useful.
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evalowen, November 7, 2011 (view all comments by evalowen)
Since this memoir is about a young girl Ilse/Alice Rene who grew up in Portland, Oregon after escaping Nazi Austria, I found it unbelievable that no person I talked to had heard of her, nor of her book. I live in Portland, Oregon. Her story resonates with me, as I too have lived the same segment of history as she describes it.Her story is my story.
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Darcy O, March 21, 2010 (view all comments by Darcy O)
"Becoming Alice: A Memoir" is a first-person account by Alice Rene of her family's escape from the Nazis to America. The family lived in Vienna, Austria, where her father was a doctor. Alice was known as Ilse and her older brother was named Fredi. When the Nazis began to take over Vienna, the family was forced to stay out of sight. Alice's father couldn't work because he was Jewish. The family's bank account was frozen, as were all Jewish bank accounts. Because circumstances became too dangerous in Vienna, the family fled to Memel, Germany, then to Riga, Latvia. Visas were hard to come by, so when one was finally available to the family, Fredi was sent to New York. The rest of the family remained in Riga until they received visas for travel on the Trans Siberian Railway, ending in Kobe, Japan. Then they endured a typhoon on their boat ride to Seattle, Washington.

Upon arriving in America and reuniting with Fredi, the family faced more challenges. Alice's parents had difficulty finding suitable employment. Her mother kept the family afloat with her sewing until her parents were offered a job running a neighborhood grocery store. Meanwhile, Alice enrolled in school and struggled to fit in. She went from "Ilse" on formal documents to "Elsie" at school, "Illy" at home, "Suzinka" by her parents, to "Sally" by local firemen. When she became a U.S. citizen, she chose "Alice" as her new name.

I was enthralled by Alice's story. In Vienna, the family lived a comfortable life; her father was well-respected as a doctor. They had to give it all up to start over in America, but they were among the lucky ones who lived. I had heard about many Jews who came to New York, but didn't realize they also came across Siberia to Japan and then to Seattle. Alice's poignant, well-written memoir will draw readers in to discover the fate of Jewish immigrants fleeing Nazi persecution. The book has won several awards in the young adult and memoir/autobiography categories. I highly recommend reading this one!
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Product Details

Personal Memoirs
Rene, Alice
Historical - General
World war, 1939-1945
Immigrants -- United States.
Biography - General
Publication Date:
9.00x6.00x.64 in. .92 lbs.

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Historical
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » Diaries and Memoirs
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » History
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Becoming Alice: A Memoir
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Product details 284 pages iUniverse - English 9781605280219 Reviews:
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