We Must Not Think of Ourselves

A Novel
by Lauren Grodstein

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Inspired by a little-known piece of history—the underground group that kept an archive to ensure that the lives of Jewish occupants of the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II were not lost to history—this is a heart-wrenching novel of love and...
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Published By Algonquin Books

Format Hardback


Number Of Pages 304

Publication Date 11/28/2023

ISBN 9781643752341

Dimensions 6.4 inches x 9.5 inches

Named a Best Book of 2023 by Kirkus Reviews (Best Fiction Books of the Year & Best Historical Fiction of 2023)

"Accomplished…This is a tender, heartbreaking novel that grapples with timeless questions. Is collaboration forgivable? Can sparks of human kindness, however tiny, fend off hopelessness in the face of evil?”

— Kim Hubbard, New York Times Book Review

"This book is a masterpiece: profound, gripping, urgent, and beautiful. In its clear-eyed and devastating portrait of the past, Grodstein invites us into the present; to bear witness to the lives that have come before us, while finding meaning and courage for our own." 
— Madeline Miller, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Circe and The Song of Achilles

“In We Must Not Think of Ourselves, Lauren Grodstein writes with such a blazing commitment to the truth of the Warsaw Ghetto that sometimes I had to stop reading and catch my breath. But in the midst of the brutality, she clears a path for the parallel stories of love and decency. Make no mistake: this is a heartbreaking portrait of a dark moment. But this novel shimmers with light.”

— Lauren Fox, New York Times bestselling author of Send for Me

"We Must Not Think of Ourselves is one of those rare books—beautifully written, seamlessly constructed, quietly devastating—that manages to tell an old story in a new way with no pyrotechnics beyond perfect storytelling, including an ending that will stay with me always. It is far and away my favorite novel of the year, of many years, and I know I will be recommending it to readers forevermore."
— Laurie Frankel, New York Times bestselling author of One Two Three

"Grodstein expertly weaves the tale of this lonely storyteller, his students and the families he lives with into the true history of the Oneg Shabbat project. Gripping, emotional, and, against all odds, hopeful."

— People

“Lauren Grodstein’s masterpiece… an extraordinary work of historical fiction.”

— Associated Press

"[A] gripping historical novel."

— Washington Post

"Emotionally charged and meticulously researched, We Must Not Think of Ourselves pays homage to the Oneg Shabbat's goal of honoring the Jewish people by bearing witness to the entirety of their experience. This is a compelling and compassionate tribute that will resonate deeply with readers."

— BookPage

"[R]ealistic, heartrending… Thought-provoking, tender, and horrifying, this memorable novel of Jewish lives in the Warsaw Ghetto offers timeless lessons."

— Shelf Awareness

"[A] crucial, compelling, and important new novel."

— Lilith Magazine

We Must Not Think of Ourselves focuses on glimmers of hope amid overwhelming catastrophe… both a love story of sorts and a philosophical tale about moral choice in extreme circumstances… skillful, warm-hearted storytelling.”

— Forward

“[A] delicate, warm account of a brutal, cold time, grounded in humanity, small details, and unwavering clarity.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“[T]his timely novel is a story of love, resilience, and hope in the darkest moments.”

— Zibby Mag

“Grodstein brings to life a critical piece of history with her strong sense of place and complex characters... [The Oneg Shabbat archive] is represented beautifully in Grodstein’s first historical novel, supported by her intensive research and the book’s dynamic relationships that show the value of everyday intimacies. Recommended for readers who enjoy stories from all time periods about the extraordinary actions of ordinary people.”

— Library Journal

“Grodstein makes her persecuted characters achingly human... This will stay with readers.”

— Publishers Weekly

“[A] moving chronicle, a worthy tribute to those who fought to survive the unthinkable.”

— Booklist

“[A] story of hope, love, doing what we can to survive.”

— Lilith Magazine

"Profound… This will move you to tears."

— Montecito Journal

"[A] penetrating novel… Grodstein movingly re-creates the circumstances behind [Oneg Shabbat’s] creation…a memorable standout."

— Historical Novels Review

We Must Not Think of Ourselves is a novel so exquisitely written that it elevates tragedy to art, and beyond art, to a soul-expanding testament.”

— Jewish Book Council

“This heart-wrenching tale explores love, defiance, and sacrifice in the face of unimaginable circumstances, making it a compelling addition to the literary World War II fiction genre.”

— Beyond The Bookends

“This powerful book resonates today as we see how people struggle to keep their humanity while they are being treated inhumanely.”

— The Citizen (Auburn, NY)