Romania 1938: two boys – one Jewish, one Catholic – fatefully meet. This is a story of two parallel journeys; of loss, survival, resilience and daring; and the triumph of love and reconnection in Australia.
This is a true story about two boys, Frici and Istvan – one Jewish, one Catholic – living two kilometres but worlds apart in Timişoara, Romania, when World War Two shatters their innocence and their lives.
Spanning two continents and three generations of two families whose lives unexpectedly intersect in their adopted country, this book beautifully captures the loss and dislocation wrought by war, and the struggles and challenges of starting anew in another country. With Just One Suitcase is a tribute to the courage and resilience of two men who bear the scars of war, who faced and overcame adversity while never surrendering their optimism for the future.
Like many adult children of first-generation Australians, I have grown to appreciate more deeply the momentous decision made by my parents in leaving their homes, their families and everything familiar to come to a new land. I believe Australia has benefitted in so many ways from the trust and optimism of those who migrated to our shores. Our richness as a migrant nation endures through the stories of our forebears, told and retold to new generations. This is one such story among many that make us who we are today. – Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development
Cheryl Koenig’s embrace of life shines through in earlier books, such as Paper Cranes. With Just One Suitcase is the backstory to her achievements. Where do those with great courage and wherewithal get it from? From those who raised them, loved them, willed them to open their hearts to life. This story os the struggle of grandparents and parents in war-torn Europe leads us movingly to trials of a different kind in Australia. Cheryl Koenig’s message is that we are always more than one person. We are ourselves, and also the dreams and hopes of those who have loved us. – Robert Hillman, award-winning biographer and fiction writer.
About the author
Cheryl Koenig OAM is a Sydney-based writer and motivational speaker. With Just One Suitcase is her fourth book – the family’s memoir. Her previous publications are Paper Cranes (2008), The Courage to Care (2007) and There’s Always Hope: Just Alter the Dreams (2006). Cheryl was named 2009 NSW Woman of the Year, and in 2014 received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the disability sector.