We Share the Same Sky: A Memoir of Memory & Migration

by Cerrotti,

Book, 2021



Call number



Blackstone Publishing 2021


In 2009, Rachael Cerrotti, a college student pursuing a career in photojournalism, asked her grandmother, Hana, if she could record her story. Rachael knew that her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and the only one in her family alive at the end of the war. Rachael also knew that she survived because of the kindness of strangers. It wasn't a secret. Hana spoke about her history publicly and regularly. But, Rachael wanted to document it as only a granddaughter could. So, that's what they did: Hana talked and Rachael wrote. Upon Hana's passing in 2010, Rachael discovered an incredible archive of her life. There were preserved albums and hundreds of photographs dating back to the 1920s. There were letters waiting to be translated, journals, diaries, deportation and immigration papers as well as creative writings from various stages of Hana's life. Rachael digitized and organized it all, plucking it from the past and placing it into her present. Then, she began retracing her grandmother's story, following her through Central Europe, Scandinavia, and across the United States. She tracked down the descendants of those who helped save her grandmother's life during the war. Rachael went in pursuit of her grandmother's memory to explore how the retelling of family stories becomes the history itself. We Share the Same Sky weaves together the stories of these two young women--Hana as a refugee who remains one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and Rachael, whose insatiable curiosity to touch the past guides her into the lives of countless strangers, bringing her love and tragic loss. Throughout the course of her twenties, Hana's history becomes a guidebook for Rachael in how to live a life empowered by grief.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member pomo58
We Share the Same Sky by Rachael Cerrotti is that rare book that leaves one mentally and emotionally both exhausted and overflowing. This is in some ways both a memoir and a biography, and my initial interest was in the biography aspect, I wasn't sure what the memoir part would add. In the end, it
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was the synthesis of the memoir and the biography into a coherent and impactful whole that made this such an exceptional book.

I am hesitant to get into too much detail because the book blurb explains it very well and there is no way a reviewer can even come close to conveying any details as well as Cerrotti does. So let me just comment on some generalities.

The writing draws the reader first into Cerrotti's world, as a child and young adult. When we start learning more details of Hana's life and, more importantly, her perspective on the events of her life, we feel much the same curiosity as Rachael feels. Fortunately for the reader, we accompany her as she both retraces Hana's steps and makes her own steps. Ultimately, we are privileged to have been allowed to better understand Hana's plight and her outlook on life as well as accompany Rachael on this part of her life's journey. This is one story with two timelines about two phenomenal women.

While not everyone can choose the same manner of understanding and honoring our ancestors that Cerrotti does, we can and should take away the importance of not simply remembering but keeping memories alive. As generations pass many details will be lost, but the more effort we put into preserving what we can the better the larger lessons will be for future generations. In this case, this family's lessons have been shared with all of us so that we may learn and grow as well.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Original publication date

August 17, 2021


1094153729 / 9781094153728
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