A Childhood Adrift

In the 1930s, René Goldman grows up entranced with theatre, music, languages and geography. Enveloped by his parents’ love and protection, he wanders the streets and alleys of Luxembourg and Brussels, carefree and prone to mischief. Yet as he starts hearing adults speak the words “deportation” and “resettlement,” René is forced to grapple with a strange, new reality. In 1942, when his family flees to France, eight-year-old René is separated from his parents and shunted between children’s homes and convents, where he must hide both his identity and his mounting anxiety. As René waits and waits for his parents to return, even liberation day does not feel like freedom. An eloquent personal narrative detailed with historical research and intuitive observations, A Childhood Adrift explores identity, closure, disillusionment and the anguish of silenced emotions.

Introduction by Helen Epstein

At a Glance
Luxembourg; Belgium; France
Vichy France
Hidden child
Passing/false identity
Postwar Poland; China
Life under Communism
Arrived in the US in 1960, and in Canada in 1963
Educational materials available Hidden Children
René Goldman Activity

328 pages, including index

Recommended Ages

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Photo of René Goldman

About the author

René Goldman was born in Luxembourg on March 25, 1934. After the war, he lived in children’s homes outside Paris and then pursued his education in Poland. In 1953, René left for Beijing, where he studied Chinese language, literature and history. He graduated from Columbia University and then joined the faculty of the University of British Columbia, where he taught courses in Chinese history. René Goldman lives in Summerland, British Columbia.

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