Writer, Teacher, Editor
“…I settled further into a life where my yes’s and no’s were all mixed up,” writes Sandra Hurtes early in her recounting of a life formed – like so many peoples’ – by decisions improvised in light of the expediencies of the moment. In clean, clear prose, The Ambivalent Memoirist does not depend upon a single, momentous occasion for its impetus. Instead, it suggests a new range of possibilities for the literary reconstruction of the past. This is a book to be enjoyed by writers and readers alike."
~~Sue William Silverman, author, Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir
"In her book The Ambivalent Memoirist, Sandra Hurtes makes the most ordinary moments sparkle; there’s a wealth of humanity here—losses, successes, missed opportunities, breakthroughs, yearnings. As a psychotherapist and writer specializing in grief, I was intrigued by the powerful yet often neglected theme of generational grief. Sandra skillfully shares with her readers the complicated family dynamics that arise as unresolved grief is passed along from one generation to the next. Sandra’s determination to claim her own life and voice lies at the heart of this intimate, refreshing memoir."
~~Alexandra Kennedy, author of Losing a Parent, The Infinite Thread: Healing Relationships Beyond Loss, and How Did I Miss All This Before? Waking Up to the Magic of Our Ordinary Lives
"Like an exquisite strand of pearls, Sandra Hurtes masterfully strings together knitting, yoga, her family--holocaust survivors--teaching, the search for a home and her quest to live the writer's life, to create an achingly honest memoir that resonates long after you've turned the final page."
~~Charles Salzberg, author, Devil in the Hole and a co-founder of The New York Writers Workshop
"Her parents were Holocaust survivors, hovering, fearful. Decisions came hard for her: "I was terrified of 'yes.'" In what seems like a small, casual memoir, Sandra Hurtes finds apartments, jobs and more. But to say "yes" she must climb a personal Everest. Fist pumped, I cheered her on."
~~Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com
PRAISE FOR RESCUE: A Memoir
"The scars of atrocity can be passed down to the next generation. "Rescue" is a memoir from Sandra Hurtes, as she reflects on ....how the events her parents faced impact her and her life...Sandra Hurtes speaks out well on these events and the pain that never goes away. "Rescue" is a fine memoir, highly recommended."
~Midwest Book Review
“Sandra Hurtes’s Rescue: a Memoir is a valuable addition to the literary genre of the second generation of Holocaust survivors in America. Hurtes views the Second Generation through the lens of psychotherapy, and eloquently shows how even well-meaning professionals might not appreciate the special significance of the post-liberation family. This valuable, heartfelt chapbook shines with honesty as it intermingles tragic loss, humor, and affirmation of life. Rescue is ultimately about members of the “Second Generation” finding their own voice.”
~Eva Fogelman is a psychologist who is writer and co-producer of Breaking the Silence: The Generation After the Holocaust and author of Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust.
“I enjoyed Rescue – if “enjoyed” is the right word.
Ms. Hurtes has written a sensitive, fluid, occasionally humorous masterpiece about her tumult and ongoing identity crisis. She is the American-born daughter of Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust – new immigrants to the United States who are searching and working towards a safe future and happy life. Her parents rescued their future children from the fate they had suffered by being someplace else other than blood-soaked, xenophobic Europe.
The author agonizingly searches to understand and find a way out of the weight her parents’ unprecedented memories have laid upon her, and a way to deal with her parents’ pain – albeit second-hand. She writes of her difficult dual affiliation to the old shtetl roots and the new American ones, which she finds incompatible and emotionally divisive.
She describes her ambivalence about identity, love, loyalty, independence, a delicately-described resentment, guilt, and ‘boundaries’ both desired and feared. The author has inherited an emotionally-weighted legacy to manage while seeking happy self-fulfillment as a writer…In my opinion, the rescue of all subsequent generations belongs in civil society, providing that we learn important lessons from both personal stories and the historical perspective.
~Judy Weissenberg Cohen
Witness / survivor
What they are saying about:
On My Way To Someplace Else (Poetica Publishing 2009)
"...On My Way to Someplace Else is short --- just 113 pages --- but it will pack a wallop for any woman who didn’t get married young, didn’t have kids, and has no certainty that the guy she’s dating will turn out to be a boyfriend.
Sandra Hurtes is that woman. She writes and teaches in New York, and though she’s a grown-up, adulthood seems to elude her. She has the usual reasons --- she wasn’t sure she was a writer until she surrendered to it, pounded out a piece and sold it. And then there is her special reason. She is, as she says so succinctly, the “daughter of an Auschwitz survivor.” For good measure, her father was also a survivor of the camps.
If you are a New Yorker of a certain age, that description is a dagger to the heart. Because the clichés are true. There is an over-sharing mother who tells her kid everything --- like anyone of any age could hear those stories and know what to do about them. Sandra has the right reaction: “I was a good daughter and almost never made waves. I didn’t want to cause them more pain than they’d already endured.”
Her parents wanted a life for Sandra “that held no sadness.” Good luck with that. In her ‘20s, Hurtes tells us, she got married --- and divorced. “I realized that my bond with my parents was so tight, it had allowed no room for anyone else, not even my husband. My marriage hadn’t stood a chance. I began then the very difficult process of separation.”
This means Christian men. Refusing her father’s gifts. Plotting a cross-country move.
It also means what I don’t want to call Jewish humor. But what can you say about a piece that begins like this: “After five tumultuous years in which I tried to turn the boy I fell in love with into the man my parents wanted him to be, my husband escaped into night with a toothbrush and a warning: ‘I’ll be back for the stereo.’”
Yes, these pieces are written in blood, but they’re wry and very aware of their obligation to entertain. Together, they address a subject not unknown to many others --- her ideal reader is “anyone who has searched for an identity and found it in more than one place.”
There’s a lovely picture on the cover: a laughing little Sandra and her momentarily content mother. And then there’s a quotation from Liv Ullman: “I often wished to rediscover within me the girl who was innocent and full of knowledge before they taught me what life was all about.” Just the right set-up for a very good book."
Jesse Kornbluth www.headbutler.com
"Many of these essays have been published elsewhere, but reading them as a whole gets the reader inside Hurtes's heart and psyche. She explores her relationship with her father, a Holocaust survivor, and her search for a match. Her writing--open, honest and vulnerable--will touch you."
"…On My Way to Someplace Else is a collection of essays from Sandra Hurtes reflecting on her childhood of growing up with Holocaust survivor parents. These essays have been previously published elsewhere, but here they are compiled and give readers much to appreciate through Hurtes' work. On My Way to Someplace Else is a top pick for memoir collections."
Midwest Book Review
"In this moving and bittersweet collection of very short essays, Hurtes traces the often painful process of the search for an identity in the face of a devastating and overwhelming familial history...While the library of works written by the children of Holocaust survivors is vast, Hurtes book distinguishes itself by focusing on her parents history primarily through the lens of her own story."
Women In Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journai
"Ms. Hurtes' book is a powerful rendering of a struggle that, although it does not result in an ultimate victory over the emotional challenges she faces as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, her unyielding effort not to be traumatized has created a story of small, redeeming victories."
Dr. Arthur Flug, Exec. Director, Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Archive Center