We were Strangers Once by Betsey Carter is the story of immigrants in America. A story told in three parts. Part 1 opens in the Old Country, Germany 1890 with 21 year old Elisabeth Arnstein meeting with Professor Rudolph Schneider about an illustration job for his books. The two eventually marry and have their son, Egon. Egon grows to love animals as his parents do but when it’s time to head to university, he decides to study medicine. At university, he meets his roommate, Meyer Leavitt, who is there to be a writer. As Egon graduates and establishes his practice, the outside world starts to intrude. It soon becomes apparent that it is no longer safe for Egon to be in Germany. He leaves in 1928. Part 2 opens in the New Country, New York City 1904 with Rose McFadden in Hell’s Kitchen when she meets Ryan Walsh. They are both Irish immigrants from County Mayo. They marry and have four children which only two survives. Ryan soon finds himself unable to care for his young family and he leaves for Chicago never to return. Rose now must raise her children, Catrina and Kiefer, on her own. Catrina grows up head strong and her path of failed love, she meets Egon. Part 3 opens as the war in Europe is raging but America has yet to join the fight. Catrina, who was born in America and Catholic, and Egon and his German friends, who are recent immigrants and Jewish, learn to interact and live in the land of the free. Some find it hard to assimilate and find the anti-German, anti-Semitic sentiment become too hard to endure. When Egon is threatened to be deportation and returned to his certain death, friends of all races and religions band together to fight to keep Egon in the country. Will they be successful? Will Egon have his American Dream?
I thoroughly enjoyed We were Strangers Once. While reading it, I will guarantee you will be on a roller coaster of emotions. Sadness, fear, elation but the one I felt the most was anger. Anger at the horrible attitudes Egon and his friends experience as they try to rebuild a life in American after the horrors they left behind. However, I feel it is an accurate depiction of what immigrants experienced as they came to the land of the free with dreams and promises of opportunity. Their fight is real and the tensions are high. But somehow the different cultures learn to come together when it matters. The story ends in June 1941. I would have liked to have seen the characters’ reactions in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack. I highly recommend We were Strangers Once
We were Strangers Once
will be available September 12, 2017
in hardcover and eBook