In My Mother’s House: Jennifer Armstrong

When Jenny fled Vienna with her family during World War II, she disowned her Jewish heritage and her homeland — but she can’t keep her memories buried when her daughter, Elizabeth, sets out to dig them up. We learn the family history through the alternating voices of mother and daughter: Jenny finally tells Elizabeth of her childhood under Nazi occupation, when her lifelong bitterness toward her professor father began. Elizabeth, meanwhile, recounts growing up in suburban Chicago, when her mother seemed distant and inaccessible. Through their recollections, we see how family minutiae (a preference for parquet floors, a taste for warm honey milk) can have deep emotional roots. By the end, the two narrative threads blend into one harmonious story, proving that while we can leave a country, we can’t escape our history.