- Title: Loves of Yulian: Mother and Me, Part III
- Author: Julian Padowicz
- Released: 2011-04-28
- Pages: 255
- ISBN: 089733616X
- ISBN13: 978-0897336161
- ASIN: 089733616X
Loves of Yulian: Mother and Me
Julian Padowicz. Academy Chicago, $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-89733-616-1
This moving third installment of Padowicz's fictionalized memoir relays the plight of his mother and himself as they flee Nazi Poland to Hungary, then to Brazil, where they spend a year awaiting papers for emigration to the U.S. Julian's loves (his affection for his former nanny, his boyish crush on a family friend) form a counterpoint to his mother's lovers, relationships often perplexing to the young boy. Padowicz adopts a leisurely pace in the recreation of a child's pleasures and pains (the equator-crossing initiation, settling into a new school, his stuttering), while the Holocaust hovers, seen primarily through recurring references to his mother's writing (Flight to Freedom, published in 1942, was called "the first of the WWII escape stories") and to her dwindling jewelry, which she sold in order for them to eat and continue their journey. Having "pretended to be Catholic" under the Nazis, Padowicz writes of his growing identity as a Jew in Brazil, from an ugly encounter on the playground to an eye-opening meeting with the poet Julian Tuwim ("I hadn't thought that Jews could be poets"). Padowicz is forthright about "the liberty of reconstructing" the past; "Mother," he tells us, "was just as likely to make up a story as to tell the truth." What Padowicz makes of this is a touching account of how his mother used her remaining assets, which beside her jewelry, were her beauty and charm, to secure the safety that permitted him to grow. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
The three books in this series are the merriest Holocaust books I have ever read. That is because the author has a great sense of humor and he and his mother are “characters.” She is gorgeous, resourceful, and knows how to use her looks and sex to get her and her son to safety. In addition, the author himself was a weird little guy who had strange ideas about God and religion, couldn’t relate to other children and formed conclusions about situations that were quite bizarre (both the situations and his conclusions!) After escaping over the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary (Book 1), eight-year-old Yulian and his mother, Barbara, with courage, wit, and a large diamond ring, finally make it by boat to Brazil—where they have adventures—he with an older female refugee (Irenka), and she with a wealthy suitor whose Latin ardor clashes with her European upper-class values, but she really needs his money . . . So many romances and so much pretending! What a movie, maybe a musical, this would make. MWP
Jewish Book World; winter 2011
Loves of Yulian is the poignant conclusion to the three-part memoir recounting the author’s harrowing WWII escape from occupied Poland to America. After fleeing over the Carpathian Mountains into Hungary, eight-year-old Yulian and his resourceful but self-involved mother, Barbara, are on board a ship to Rio de Janeiro to await their turn for immigration to the United States. A former Warsaw socialite, Barbara has no marketable skills, only her looks, wits and courage. Paying their way by selling the diamonds she had concealed in her clothing, they land in Brazil with only the diamond engagement ring on her finger. Somehow, it must finance both their stay and eventual passage to New York.
Yulian, a sensitive Jewish boy raised by an overprotective, devoutly Catholic nanny, has difficulty interacting with other children and concludes that God is punishing him for abandoning Judaism. Complicating matters, he falls in love with a beautiful, but significantly older, fellow refugee, Irenka, who has been hired to take him to the beach. When his mother meets a man she truly cares for, Yulian hopes he has finally found his long-sought-after father figure. But Barbara’s European upper-class values clash with her suitor’s Latin ardor, leaving Yulian in the middle of a misaligned courtship, which he desperately wants to set right.
Eventually, Yulian resolves his spiritual issues with the help of a celebrated Polish poet and his own teddy bear. His ambitious mother, however, must choose between a man she truly loves and her future in America.