THE WAY HOME: A German Childhood, an American Life

Ernestine Bradley, Author . Pantheon $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-375-42279-9

"Memories, to me, are like illuminated islands floating in an ocean of darkness," begins Bradley's memoir. Wife of Bill Bradley, the former senator and candidate for the 2000 presidential election, Ernestine Bradley recounts her rocky childhood in Germany during and after WWII and her move to the U.S. as an adult. Bradley's recollections of her childhood and adolescence in Germany provide an insightful portrait of a family in flux during the Nazi regime, but the flow of emotion is often interrupted by unnecessary parenthetical comments and uncertainty (e.g., "This I don't remember, but it makes sense"). Bradley's parents' intense—and at times unconventional—relationship is a focal point of the author's childhood confusion and adolescent resentment, and inspires heartfelt descriptions. Her strength is apparent as she describes her flight from the confines of her family—appropriately enough as an airline flight attendant—and her subsequent challenges as a wife, mother, academic (in the field of comparative literature) and breast cancer survivor. Her descriptions of her later life are short but accurately relay the difficulties she dealt with as a woman balancing a career and a family during the 1960s and '70s. While at times stiff and defensive, Bradley's memoir is a fine portrait of a childhood spent in wartime and an adult's search for true identity. Illus. Agent, Philippa Brophy. (Mar. 1)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 129 pages - 978-0-307-42959-9
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-1-4000-7606-2
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