Susan Geroes novel explores the lives of survivors and their subsequent families from the Second Generations point of view.
Like Ilona Gabor, the heroine of her novel, Susan Geroe was born in Romania after the Second World War, the only child of Holocaust survivors. Her mother was in Auschwitz, and her father was in forced labor battalions. Over fifty members of their family perished during the Holocaust, including both sets of parents (Susans grandparents), and a two-year-old girl who would have been Susans older sister.
Susan was well educated in languages and sciences through her high school years, after which the family was granted permission to leave Romania, forfeiting most of what they owned to the Socialist state. They lived briefly in Vienna and Genoa, then immigrated to Los Angeles where they had family. She married in 1966 and became a mother in 1968.
During the 1980s and 1990s she and her husband (who is a child survivor of the Holocaust) lost several relatives and close friends who had survived the Holocaust. These losses led her to discover and join the local chapter of the Second Generation, whose members were all children born to survivors after the war. It was her experience with her 2G peers that inspired her to write The Silence of Parents, a novel about the shared experiences of this unique group of people. They feel, and this book describes, the phenomenon of their parents "Survivor Guilt" through osmosis. Also, a great many of them share the experience of having been overprotected by their parents who sheltered them from every possible danger and even from the truth about the horror they had endured. Then, in a role reversal, the children were protecting their parents, afraid of causing them more hurt. Often, the curtain of silence did more harm than good. One of the novels most important underlying themes is the importance of honesty and openness: peopleeven childrendo not need to be protected from the painful truth.
The Silence of Parents is not a novel of the Holocaust. Rather, it is a story about the legacy of the Holocaust upon two groups, or two generations. It realistically describes the lives of survivors stranded for nearly two decades in Communist Eastern Europe, their being uprooted once again during their emigration, and finally their integration through work and perseverance to become contributing members of society in a free country.
Second, this novel describes, more than any other novel published so far, the special psychological effects the legacy of the Holocaust has had upon the children of survivors. The Second Generation survivors must be heard, for they have much to tell us about the human heart.
Susan Simpson Geroe lives and writes in San Diego, California.