Why couldn’t I occupy the world as those model-looking women did, with their flowing hair, pulling their tiny bright suitcases as if to say, I just arrived from elsewhere, and I already belong here, and this sidewalk belongs to me?
When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved grandfather’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi K. Lewis decides to retrace his journey to learn about her family history. Despite suffering from extreme disorientation and a lifetime of anxiety, she travels alone for the first time. Moving from Amsterdam to Lyon—relying on the marvels of GPS—she discovers family secrets and her own narrative as a second-generation Jewish Canadian. With vulnerability, humour, and wisdom, Lewis’s memoir asks tough questions about her identity as a secular Jew, the accuracy of family stories, and the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations. How do immigrants weave their sense of identity into their chosen countries? Must we be able to locate ourselves within family and cultural geography to belong?