If you aren’t Jewish, you may wish you were after reading Managing Bubbie by Russel Lazega. Russel has an incredible grandmother. A fiery woman who speaks with a heavy accent, she is portrayed perfectly, as if you were standing in the room with her. This remarkable woman came from a hard life in the early 1900s. She survived growing up in Poland during the most terrifying of times. Despite the threat of Hitler, her no-nonsense mother who seems to have driven her children from home with her strict rules, and her flighty father who couldn’t take responsibility and soberness seriously for a moment, Lea grew up, survived, and made her way to America to raise her own family. She had precious stories she wanted her grandson Russel to share with the world. Thankfully he did.
Managing Bubbie is a title with its own unique humor. Lea’s strong willed nature was a force to be reckoned with, and it was always best to let her go her own way and listen. Lazega mentions early on that he nearly didn’t take her seriously about a book, and while it may not make him the millionaire she claims it should, she is right that her stories are treasures. We are at a pivotal time in history. We are losing many of the survivors of Hitler’s Holocaust. The people who can recount what it was like firsthand to live through that terrible fear as a Jewish person are at the tail end of old age. Capturing stories like Lea’s allows those who come after her to understand how life in a regime creates a scar on history, but also shapes some amazing people. The resilience of these people is unlike anyone after them. While we can hope to never repeat these evils, we must not lose these stories of how people can survive true evil. Managing Bubbie is more than a book about sweet stories from a Yiddish grandmother who will make you laugh and wish someone loved you as much. It is an epic piece of history caught in the pages of a loving book, which will surely touch your heart.
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