I can’t remember what took me to Annette Gendler’s blog. But I would hazard a guess it had to do with writing, memoir, and/or creative nonfiction. Whatever the topic, Gendler’s site is where I learned of her memoir, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir. Gendler shares the complex story and many sacrifices made in a marriage between a Catholic and a Jew.
Gendler uses her great-aunt’s story of marrying a Jewish man during World War II to tell her story. Aunt Resi bravely defied tradition. However, her marriage did not survive the war.
Gendler and the man she loved feared losing each other. So, they kept their relationship a secret for three years. Gendler went about learning all she could about Judaism. In the end, she made her own spiritual choice, conversion to Judaism. Not only was the choice hers and hers alone, but it also led the family of the man she loves to accept her.
Gendler’s memoir provides an excellent example of showing how to move between generational stories. It isn’t always easy to move back and forth when writing, but Gendler provides a perfect model.
The title selection for this memoir is another good lesson for writers. Jumping Over Shadows is not only the title but is also what Gendler and the love of her life did during their secret relationship. They “jumped over shadows” left behind by previous generations. In Gendler’s memoir, she describes how familial understanding and acceptance were achieved. Gendler and her husband jumped from generation to generation (i.e. shadows) to find harmony. This allowed them to form the foundation for a happy marriage.
Annette Gendler is an author, writing instructor, blogger, and photographer. Since 2006, she has taught memoir writing at StoryStudio Chicago. Her newest book, How to Write Compelling Stories from Family History, is based on one of her workshops, which I have also taught at the American Writers Museum in Chicago, the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, GrubStreet in Boston, WriteSpace Jerusalem as well as the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids.