(Graphic found here)
We Are On Our Own is Miriam Katin’s memoir of her survival during World War II. Told in graphic novel format, it is the story of Miriam and her mom, who are running from the Nazis in occupied Hungary. Miriam’s father is away at war when the orders come for her and her mother to list all of their belongings, and report for deportation. Rather than risk what the end of that trail might hold for them, Miriam’s mother purchases fake documents that identify her as a poor servant with an illegitimate child, and they travel into the countryside to hopefully wait out the war on a small farm.
There are those out there who would do Miriam and her mother only harm, those who would do them only kindness, and those like the landlord in the graphic above, who would betray them without admitting having done so, even to themselves. Miriam’s mother must make many difficult decisions, endure many horrors, in order to stay alive and keep her young daughter safe. But safe they remain, and after the war, they are finally reunited with Miriam’s father.
The story is told from Miriam’s point of view, so we catch only glimpses of what her mother is going through. Her innocence is very touching, and is an interesting point of view for a war story. That the tale is that of a very young girl and her mother gives a different perspective than we usually get, and it’s all the more compelling for that reason.
At first glance, the title seems to apply to Miriam and her mother, in their fight for survival. That there are no people to help them along. But there are kind people all along, willing to help her as much as they can. No, they are not on their own because of no friendly faces or kind hearts. They are on their own because of a loss of faith. At least for Miriam and her father, they can not believe that a kind and loving God would allow such horrors to happen to good people. Interestingly, the book is ambiguous regarding whether her mother suffered this same loss of faith or not.