“The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, is Reviewed by the New York Times

October 6, 2017
by

Amelia Navins

The Choice: Embrace the Possible, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, is a devastating yet beautiful memoir detailing the course of Dr. Eger’s life.  

Born in 1927 to Hungarian-Jewish parents in Slovakia, Eger spent her early days pursuing dance and gymnastics in Kosice, in what was then Hungary. Eger excelled at her passions, even making it onto the Hungarian gymnastics team in preparation for the upcoming Olympics. When the Hungarian government enacted antisemitic laws in 1942, Eger was expelled from the team, the first of many antisemitic acts she would face.  

 In 1944, during the German occupation of Hungary, Eger, her parents, and one of her sisters were forced into a ghetto. Months later they were deported to Auschwitz. Eger and her mother were first selected for the gas chambers, until the infamous Joseph Mengele pulled Eger out of the line, ordering her to dance for him.   

Forced to live under brutal and inhumane conditions, Eger derived strength and determination to survive from her fellow prisoners. After liberation in May 1945, she was rescued by an American soldier from a pile of dead bodies and sent to recover in an American field hospital. After she recovered, she returned to her hometown, reconnected with both of her sisters, and married. In 1949, she immigrated to the United States with her husband and young daughter but continued to experience persistent trauma and survivors’ guilt. Not until she met fellow survivor Viktor Frankl did she enter therapy for the first time and experience a shift in mindset. She became a licensed psychologist and used her own traumatic experiences to better understand and help her patients escape the prisons of their own minds.  

In 2017, at 90 years old, Dr. Eger published The Choice: Embrace the Possible, a beautiful story of suffering, healing, and forgiveness that invites readers to look deeply inside themselves to find strength to move forward, forgive, and choose freedom. On October 6, 2017, the New York Times praised Dr. Eger and The Choice in its review. Shortly after, The Choice became both a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller.  

This entry was created for This Week in History as part of a course on the history of American Jews and Social Justice taught by Karla Goldman at the University of Michigan, Winter 2023. 

 

Sources:  

Gottlieb, Lori. “What a Survivor of Auschwitz Learned From the Trauma of Others.” New York Times, October 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/books/review/the-choice-edith-eva-eger-auschwitz-memoir.html  

“Biography.” Dr. Edith Eger.com, 2018, https://dreditheger.com/about/.  

 

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Jewish Women's Archive. "“The Choice: Embrace the Possible,” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, is Reviewed by the New York Times ." (Viewed on April 12, 2024) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/oct/06/2017/choice-embrace-possible-dr-edith-eva-eger-reviewed-new-york-times>.