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Book Review

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Meant to Be: A True Story of Might, Miracles, and Triumph of the Human Spirit, by Roslyn Franken

January 31st 2016

Meant to Be

Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction is surely not as inspirational. True stories of courage, true stories people battling against the odds, inspire us to be determined, never to lose hope. That is undoubtedly the most important take-away from Roslyn Franken’s book, Meant to Be. It is the story of her parents, which came to define Roslyn’s own life. Roslyn is the unlikely child of survivors - her father John, who endured and survived the horrors of being a Prisoner of War in Japan, and her mother, Sonja, who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps.

How they got together in spite of this great geographic divide between Europe and the Far East is a remarkable story in itself. But that in itself is hardly remarkable, as the book itself is replete with remarkable stories. 

Were they coincidences? Did they just happen, or were they ‘meant to be’? In truth, we can never really know for sure. But the author is less interested in this philosophical quest. She is more interested in how we understand what happens to us in life.

What is clear from reading the book, and it is a wonderful read, is that we gain so much from trying to give meaning to what happens to us, to think of these life experiences as meant, as having meaning, rather than dismissing them as meaningless.

The upshot of taking seriously what happens to us, the cards we are dealt, is that we are likely to learn useful lessons and employ these lessons in how we deal with what we are dealt. There is no better example of this than the author herself. Roslyn Franken has herself been faced with a gloomy reality, the reality of cancer. She shared in common with her parents the scary question - will I have a tomorrow?

Reading her book, you are left thoroughly and genuinely convinced that her courage and determination derived directly from the example set by her parents. Her positivity is so real, you can almost touch it. We were fortunate to hear Roslyn talk about her book at the launch. What was overwhelming about that experience was the presence, at the event, of Roslyn’s dear father, alert and sprightly even though he in his nineties, and even after all he had endured. It is a thrill of the goose-pimple variety for a parent to hear such veneration from a child, and to hear a child expressing unbounded love and admiration for a parent. If you want to experience that thrill in some form, read the book. It is heart-warming to experience, just by reading, the positive influence parents can have, and how much we gain by appreciating others, and taking seriously all that life offers, the good and the not so good.

For more information, go to http://www.meanttobe.today.

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