How do we know whether our memories are real or imagined? Helen Epstein poses this question in the third of her holocaust series books The Long Half-Lives of Love and Trauma. Epstein writes in a particular style with very short paragraphs which makes her books accessible, readable, and inviting. The book is non- fiction, but reads like a novel. It falls into the category of many genre's: memoir, cultural history, psychoanalytic study, and trauma study.
Epstein is interested in what it means to be a trauma survivor, a second generation holocaust survivor, and someone trying to reconstruct their past through memory. Was she or was she not sexually abused? How have the atrocities of Nazi Germany effected her and all of the children of the holocaust? Epstein has written a very thought provoking book that can be read by a historian as a slice of history, a psychologist about the lingering effects of trauma, or a memoirist trying to piece together an individual's life story.
Are we the culmination of our collective memories or the product of our personal narrative's. Rather than asking us to choose, Epstein has presented us with a variety of answer's which all seem to be the correct interpretation. In essence, her answer to the complexity of identity reduces to the impossibility of any one single account.