Until February 15, 2001, Howard Reich’s mother, Sonia, had managed to keep almost everything about her experience of the Holocaust from her son. That night, she packed some clothes and fled her house in Skokie, Illinois, convinced that someone was trying to kill her. This was the first indication that she was suffering from late-onset post traumatic stress disorder, a little-known condition that can emerge decades after the initial trauma. For Howard, it was also the opening of a window onto his mother’s past.
In Prisoner of Her Past, Howard Reich has written a moving memoir about growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors and finding refuge from silence and fear in the world of jazz. It is only when Sonia’s memories overwhelm her and Howard begins to piece together her story that he comes to understand how his parents’ lives shaped his own. The paperback edition includes an epilogue by the author that relates developments since the publication of the cloth edition.