My Book of 2017 Lit for Life

Hope is a yellow flower: The Choice by Edith Eva Eger is Claire Scobie’s book of 2017

When I was in London in July last year, I caught up with my publisher, Judith Kendra, at Rider. I always enjoy sitting in her office and looking at the rows of books, many spiritual, that line her bookshelves.

One book jacket immediately jumped out at me: porcelain-cream, a wavering mustard-yellow flower and a design that is both understated, yet alluring. The Choice was already creating a buzz in-house and when I left, Judith thrust a copy into my hand.

I can see why. Its author, Edith Eva Eger, is a holocaust survivor, psychologist and a rare and an extraordinary individual. Not only did Eger face some of the most heinous Nazi criminals — even having to perform a dance for ‘Angel of Death’ Josef Mengele inside Auschwitz just after he’d sent her mother and father to the gas chambers — she found it in herself to forgive him and kept on forgiving.


The premise of the book is simple, yet so hard to live by. According to Eger, how we choose to look at life is always up to us, every moment of every day, one choice at a time. The first part of the book covers Eger’s own journey, how she clung to her sister so they both made it alive through the death camps; her rescue, barely alive, from a pile of bodies, and the way she rebuilt her shattered life in post-war America.

In the second half, she describes the clients she has worked with during her psychology practice and how she helped others liberate themselves from their internal self-made prisons. Her experience at Auschwitz, she says, gave her “a tremendous gift”, allowing her to “guide people to have resilience and perseverance.” Searingly written, beautiful and courageous, this is a book that deserves to be read slowly and with time to reflect. While some of the details are graphic, it is ultimately an uplifting read and is the sort of book that you will buy for your friends when they face a crossroads in life. The Choice is a reminder of our own capacity to heal and change, and that freedom — in the true sense of the word — is possible for us all.

The writer is the author of The Pagoda Tree (Unbound) and Last Seen in Lhasa (Random House).

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 4:05:00 PM |

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