We Were the Lucky Ones


About the Book

Inspired by the incredible true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive—and to reunite—We Were the Lucky Ones is a tribute to the triumph of hope and love against all odds.

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety. An extraordinary, propulsive novel, We Were the Lucky Ones demonstrates how in the face of the 20th century’s darkest moment, the human spirit can endure and even thrive.

About the Author

When Georgia Hunter was 15 years old, she learned that she came from a family of Holocaust survivors. We Were the Lucky Ones was born of her quest to uncover her family’s staggering history. Hunter’s website, georgiahunterauthor.com, offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extensive research this project has entailed. She lives in Connecticut.

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Do-it-yourself Book Club

Download these sheets and resources to enhance your discussion:

We Were the Lucky Ones Discussion Questions

About the Author and Author’s Notes

Kurc Family Map

Kurc Family Timeline

Where Are the Kurc Family Members Now

Tosa’s Children of Holocaust Survivors Video – See Tosa resident Andy Palec’s presentation about his father, Samuel, who survived imprisonment at Dachau and later moved to Milwaukee.


Food for Your Meeting

There is not an abundance of food references in We Were the Lucky Ones, certainly not many that would lend themselves to a book club gathering. However, we’ve put together a few suggestions.

If your book club is the type that serves a meal, the cabbage- and mushroom-stuffed pierogi that Bella enjoyed her last night with her family in Radom would make a fine main course. (Or, if time doesn’t permit, you can buy frozen pierogi.) Along with the pierogi, you could serve one of two salads we’re sharing here: a roasted beet salad—a  nod to Halina’s field work for the Germans—or a refreshing orange salad, honoring a sweet moment when Genek is given an orange after almost two years with his wife and baby as a Russian prisoner.

If dessert is your book club’s norm, you could bake up this Polish gingerbread cake, which Jakob dreams of during his secret wedding to Bella, or make a batch of rugelach, a Polish Jewish treat not mentioned in the book but most certainly known to the Kurc family. Another sweet option would be the Polish apple pancakes known as racuchy.

Finally, we come to drinks. Our suggestion is the Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, inspired by Addy’s years in that country. It’s a simple concoction of cachaça, a fermented sugar cane spirit, fresh limes and superfine sugar. Yum.


Orange-y Citrus Salad

Piernik (Gingerbread Cake)

Pierogi with Cabbage and Mushrooms

Racuchy (Polish Apple Pancakes)

Roasted Beet Salad


Books for Younger Readers: 

For high school students
The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz: a true story retold for young readers
by Jeremy Dronfield

For middle readers (ages 8+)
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

The War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

White Bird
by R.J. Palacio

Picture books (ages 4-8)
The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking Through Anne Frank’s Window
by Jeff Gottesfeld

Jars of Hope
by Jennifer Roy

Nicky & Vera
by Peter Sis

The Whispering Town
by Jennifer Elvgren

Thanks to our Children’s Book Sponsors, Mathnasium and Ruckus & Glee, we were able to give away free copies of our middle reader book selection, Number the Stars.


Essay Contest

The members of the Kurc family find strength in their love for each other and their hope to be reunited. Write about how the bonds that connect family have impacted your life and/or your family’s history.

During WWII many children had to travel separately from their parents and sometimes leave their families without knowing if they would see them again. Describe a time that a parent made a decision for you that you were nervous about, and describe what you learned from this experience.

Grades 3-5
First Place: Lucy Bach (Roosevelt) – Dance Development
Second Place: Abigail Herbert (Lincoln Elementary) – Minikani Sleepaway
Honorable Mention: Evelyn Howard (Roosevelt) – When You Think Life Is Falling Apart
Honorable Mention: Lucy Marvel (Roosevelt) – Purpose in Pain

Grades 6-8
First Place: Josiah Hughes (Journeys Lutheran School) – My Essay
Second Place: Clara Ost (Longfellow) – Drop
Honorable Mention: Charlotte (Charlie) Nunag (Longfellow) – No Choice

First Place: Taylor Vraney – Future Family Outcast
Second Place (tie):
• Mary Sykes – Nuclear Number – Orbit of Familial Bonds
• Katherine Witt – Reflections Lake