This book is intended both as a memoir and a portrayal of the effects that the holocaust had on its survivors and their children. The first fourth of the book centers on the lives of the author's mother, Channa Perschowski, and father, Nathan Poltzer, beginning when these lives begin to unravel. Channa was taken by her brother Issac to join the resistance against the Nazis at the tender age of 12 while Nathan at age 18 was deported to a concentration camp. They both managed to survive their brutal ordeal but they lost their family and friends. These chapters were harrowing to read.
Eventually Nathan and Channa traveled to America, met and got married. When their first son was born Nathan thought to himself that "Hitler had not won" because his lineage would continue. As it turns out, even though Hitler indeed had not won, his poison had become embedded deeply in both Nathan and Channa.
The rest of the book chronicles how this poison affects their marriage and their children resulting in a deeply divided and dysfunctional family. Hence the title of the book: "Broken Birds." Jeannette Katzir deftly describes in minute detail and analyzes how her parent's insecurities, unresolved anger issues, and a mistrust of strangers verging on paranoia slowly spread over the years into her and her four siblings affecting everything from their choice of spouses to how their own children were treated.
We often have the notion that if a person survives a period of intense hardship that person can face whatever life throws at them. The author in this book dispels that myth. The skills that one may develop to survive a war may not be the ones required during peacetime to have a healthy marriage and raise balanced children.
Overall reading Jeannette Katzir's book was a powerful experience. It is both a very intimate look at the inner workings of a family affected by the holocaust and a slice of history that documents very trying times for a group of people persecuted for their race.