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The Soup Has Many Eyes: From Shtetl to Chicago - One Family's Journey Through History

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At home in her Pennsylvania kitchen, Joann Leonard makes soup. In her grandfather's pot, she improvises, using her great-grandmother's unwritten recipe. As she does, amid the fragrant steam rising from the pot comes a stream of memories, half-told tales, and departed ancestors asking that their stories be told. And what stories they are: of a family terrorized by Cossacks i At home in her Pennsylvania kitchen, Joann Leonard makes soup. In her grandfather's pot, she improvises, using her great-grandmother's unwritten recipe. As she does, amid the fragrant steam rising from the pot comes a stream of memories, half-told tales, and departed ancestors asking that their stories be told. And what stories they are: of a family terrorized by Cossacks in its Eastern European village; of a man hiding twenty-eight days beneath a barn floor to avoid being murdered; of a tiny girl left behind with others for safety, lost for twelve long years and then miraculously found. Theirs is also the vivid story of new lives made from old in America, "the Golden Land," lives rich in humor, wisdom, and bone-deep faith. Written as a spiritual legacy for her two grown sons so that they may know their roots, and illustrated with old family photographs, this highly praised history of a remarkable family is a testament to the miracle of what happens when we invite the past into our lives.


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At home in her Pennsylvania kitchen, Joann Leonard makes soup. In her grandfather's pot, she improvises, using her great-grandmother's unwritten recipe. As she does, amid the fragrant steam rising from the pot comes a stream of memories, half-told tales, and departed ancestors asking that their stories be told. And what stories they are: of a family terrorized by Cossacks i At home in her Pennsylvania kitchen, Joann Leonard makes soup. In her grandfather's pot, she improvises, using her great-grandmother's unwritten recipe. As she does, amid the fragrant steam rising from the pot comes a stream of memories, half-told tales, and departed ancestors asking that their stories be told. And what stories they are: of a family terrorized by Cossacks in its Eastern European village; of a man hiding twenty-eight days beneath a barn floor to avoid being murdered; of a tiny girl left behind with others for safety, lost for twelve long years and then miraculously found. Theirs is also the vivid story of new lives made from old in America, "the Golden Land," lives rich in humor, wisdom, and bone-deep faith. Written as a spiritual legacy for her two grown sons so that they may know their roots, and illustrated with old family photographs, this highly praised history of a remarkable family is a testament to the miracle of what happens when we invite the past into our lives.

44 review for The Soup Has Many Eyes: From Shtetl to Chicago - One Family's Journey Through History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    "Life has so many hungers. So many mouths clamor to be fed--the mind, the stomach, the soul, the heart, the pocket. When you find a food that feeds several mouths at once, it is a special blessing in the eyes of God." Beautifully written, this little book is a love story from a mother to her two sons, giving them an invaluable contribution to understanding the triumph of their own immigrant experience. "Life has so many hungers. So many mouths clamor to be fed--the mind, the stomach, the soul, the heart, the pocket. When you find a food that feeds several mouths at once, it is a special blessing in the eyes of God." Beautifully written, this little book is a love story from a mother to her two sons, giving them an invaluable contribution to understanding the triumph of their own immigrant experience.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adele

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book was okay. It certainly is an interesting family history of early 1900s Russia, and of being caught up in the pogroms of that time, and of emigration to America. However, I do feel sorry for Joann and her lack of [Jewish] faith. I quote her own words she tells to her two sons: Without the steadfast rituals of my relatives, I am bereft of a starting place. Maybe that’s why geography baffles me – I have no locus. I lack the rites that wolf-mark the territory of our brief life We wanted your The book was okay. It certainly is an interesting family history of early 1900s Russia, and of being caught up in the pogroms of that time, and of emigration to America. However, I do feel sorry for Joann and her lack of [Jewish] faith. I quote her own words she tells to her two sons: Without the steadfast rituals of my relatives, I am bereft of a starting place. Maybe that’s why geography baffles me – I have no locus. I lack the rites that wolf-mark the territory of our brief life We wanted your spirits to be unfettered by dogma; unbound moving matter; to give you a faith that saved the unchosen as well as the chosen; in which sacraments were anchored in the moment Without words, did you learn how to pray? In rejecting the rote, in considering everything sacred, did we make nothing sacred? In discarding Hallmark holidays or everyday words of love and support, did you receive the message that our passage through life is without milestones? I envy those with unflinching faith … I want light and flight and daily transformation. I long desperately for a faith of my fathers, of my mothers, a faith that can pray in the face of senseless death and unbearable misery. But the God of my understanding is some unnamable, unknowable mystery. Yes, I pray, I cry out, but not because I believe (as I yearn to) in answered prayers, in angels, in an omniscient and loving Mother/Father/Friend, but because I was born lop-headed, myopic, without breath and with too many worms churning inside not to believe.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The family history is interesting, but I found the writing distracting. The first 1/2 - 2/3 is full of unnecessarily flowery language. The soup analogy is persistent but feels forced. Joann and her sons are central to the writing as ghosts of family members passed visit to inform the story of their family history. Then, as Anna’s story deepens and becomes central, all of that sort of fades away and the book assumed a rather regular structure for historical nonfiction stories. I preferred this la The family history is interesting, but I found the writing distracting. The first 1/2 - 2/3 is full of unnecessarily flowery language. The soup analogy is persistent but feels forced. Joann and her sons are central to the writing as ghosts of family members passed visit to inform the story of their family history. Then, as Anna’s story deepens and becomes central, all of that sort of fades away and the book assumed a rather regular structure for historical nonfiction stories. I preferred this later structure, but it made no sense with the first portion of the book and I became even more distracted wondering how the original structure would be tied in with this new structure (it wasn’t). All in all, this wasn’t a bad read but I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This is a great book! A memoir and very interesting!!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Cook-jimenez

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike Burke

  7. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  8. 5 out of 5

    Elsabet

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ilana

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ames

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carina

  12. 4 out of 5

    Knihovnikarska

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Roney

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Janean

  16. 5 out of 5

    JOE

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

  20. 4 out of 5

    Foxtrot

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cyndi Cascone

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Holly Brennan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  26. 5 out of 5

    Denice

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  29. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Magnuson

  32. 5 out of 5

    Ric

  33. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  34. 5 out of 5

    Amira Syuhada

  35. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  36. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  37. 4 out of 5

    Julie

  38. 4 out of 5

    Georgi

  39. 5 out of 5

    LPenting

  40. 5 out of 5

    Carol

  41. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  42. 5 out of 5

    ZORO

  43. 5 out of 5

    Jaime Perkins

  44. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

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