We Share the Same Sky

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020

A grand­daugh­ter’s decade-long jour­ney to retrace her grand­moth­er’s wartime escape and weave togeth­er the thin threads of fam­i­ly history.

In 2009, Rachael Cer­rot­ti, a col­lege stu­dent pur­su­ing a career in pho­to­jour­nal­ism, asked her grand­moth­er, Hana, if she could record her sto­ry. Rachael knew that her grand­moth­er was a Holo­caust sur­vivor and the only one in her fam­i­ly alive at the end of the war. Rachael also knew that she sur­vived because of the kind­ness of strangers. It wasn’t a secret. Hana spoke about her his­to­ry pub­licly and reg­u­lar­ly. But, Rachael want­ed to doc­u­ment it as only a grand­daugh­ter could. So, that’s what they did: Hana talked and Rachael wrote. Upon Hana’s pass­ing in 2010, Rachael dis­cov­ered an incred­i­ble archive of her life. There were pre­served albums and hun­dreds of pho­tographs dat­ing back to the 1920s. There were let­ters wait­ing to be trans­lat­ed, jour­nals, diaries, depor­ta­tion and immi­gra­tion papers as well as cre­ative writ­ings from var­i­ous stages of Hana’s life. Rachael dig­i­tized and orga­nized it all, pluck­ing it from the past and plac­ing it into her present. Then, she began retrac­ing her grandmother’s sto­ry, fol­low­ing her through Cen­tral Europe, Scan­di­navia and across the Unit­ed States. She tracked down the descen­dants of those who helped save her grandmother’s life dur­ing the war. Rachael went in pur­suit of her grandmother’s mem­o­ry to explore how the retelling of fam­i­ly sto­ries becomes the his­to­ry itself. We Share the Same Sky weaves togeth­er the sto­ries of these two young women — Hana as a refugee who remains one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and Rachael, whose insa­tiable curios­i­ty to touch the past guides her into the lives of count­less strangers, bring­ing her love and trag­ic loss. Through­out the course of her twen­ties, Hana’s his­to­ry becomes a guide­book for Rachael in how to live a life empow­ered by grief.

Discussion Questions