A Crime in the Family is Sacha Batthyany’s telling of a massacre of Jews during the Holocaust, one horrific act among many, that was carried out with the knowledge and complicity of the author’s aunt – a member of the old Hungarian aristocracy. Although the book recounts the historical facts around the event and the Batthyany family’s lives in the aftermath of the war, this is a deeply personal book, and it is as much about the author’s personal journey, and his relations with other children of both victims and perpetrators of the Holocaust as it is about the history.
The book is written in several formats, and includes journal or diary excerpts from several survivors. It also includes some of the author’s sessions with his psychoanalyst, and his present-day relationship with his father. Ultimately, this book may not be for everyone, particularly for readers looking for historical events. Also, the author answers few of the questions he poses in the book. This may appeal to readers who can empathize with the author’s difficult situation, which is not at all his fault, but it can also make the book feel purposeless and occasionally at loose ends. This book will likely appeal most to readers who like to feel a strong emotional connection to the author. While having an encyclopedic knowledge of Holocaust history is not necessary, this book will be more appealing to readers who have at least a basic understanding of the time period.
Katie Richards is a lifelong reader and story-lover. She formalized this love with master’s degrees in art history and English. In addition to her work with the Portland Book Review, she works as an adjunct instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. She lives outside of Denver, Colorado with her partner and four spoiled cats. In her free time she also enjoys knitting, sewing, and the beautiful outdoor scenery of Colorado.
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