“The Holocaust,” Eleanor Reissa writes in this unforgettable and courageous book, “is attached to me like my skin and I would be formless without it.”
In 1986, when her mother died at the age of sixty-four, Eleanor Reissa went through all of her belongings. In the back of her mother’s lingerie drawer, she found an old leather purse. Inside that purse was a wad of dried-up papers in a brittle baggie: fifty-six letters handwritten in German by her father, in 1949 — only four years after Auschwitz — to her mother, also a refugee, already living in the United States.
Forty years later, Eleanor finally had the letters translated.
With her father’s letters as her silent guide, Eleanor goes on a journey down the River of Time, unearthing the unknowable about her family’s past and her own present.
“Among the great number of personal takes on the Holocaust, Eleanor Reissa’s book really stands out for its intelligence and courage. In this brutal, poignant, and searingly honest book, Reissa manages somehow to find insight and purpose in the ashes. This extraordinary account of two parallel journeys will stick with anyone privileged enough to read it.”— David Margolick, author of The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy
“This journey of discovery is riveting, told with tender insight, at times heartbreaking and at times heartwarming, just like the Yiddish songs that have delighted Ms. Reissa’s audiences.”— Joseph Berger, New York Times reporter; author of Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust
“The Letters Project is a wonderful book — funny, heartbreaking, and ultimately transcendent. Reissa’s journey back into her family’s past makes for a gripping — and very human — international mystery.”— Tony Phelan, TV Showrunner for Grey’s Anatomy
“Eleanor Reissa has written a gritty, fearless yet funny memoir about herself, her family, and the Holocaust. Once I began reading it, I was completely swept away.”— Julian Schlossberg, American motion picture, theatre, and television producer