Book review: I’m not from Around Here

Y’all by now should know that I have a weakness for World War II stories. My curiosity towards Holocaust and the tragedies related to that has lead me to some good books and several hours of random history lessons on the Internet.

And I was offered by Ishai Kalinovsky to read an ARC of his memoir I’m not from Around Here in exchange for a review, I had to accept it even though I don’t read many memoirs generally. How did it turn out? Read ahead to know more.

About the book

I'm not from Around Here

Book Name: I’m not from Around Here

Author: Ishai Kalinovsky

Genre: Non-Fiction – HistoricalMemoir

Characters: Lola, Stashek, Hannah, the narrator Sam, Emile.

Setting: Poland, Germany, and Israel

Disclaimer: I received this indie book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review.


I’m not from Around Here reads like a diary of the author Ishai Kalinovsky that talks about the experiences of his Jewish family right from the time of the World War II in Poland. His mother is a labor camp survivor while her dad was a street fighter in Warsaw. The couple meet immediately after the end of the War and escape to Germany to win what was looted from the Jews.

I’m not from Around Here is not about the war but its aftermath on Jews and the other survivors. The narrator’s father, Stashek is an unscrupulous businessman who would do what he has to provide for himself, his mistresses and his family. He takes up to the black market business and has a great influence on the society by being fearsome.

When his parents break up his mother Lola takes up another man and gets pregnant, which is a total no-no in their orthodox neighborhood. Lola was a timid, weak girl when she entered the labor camp. But her firm belief in her guardian angel helped her survive all the adversities in her life.

Meanwhile, the narrator’s estranged father and stepfather are arrested for smuggling cars into the country. How the narrator and his family survive the final blow of being strewn across the country forms the rest of I’m not from Around Here.

My thoughts

Being a memoir we get to take a glimpse at what really happened in the camps but that is just a small part in the book. I sort of guessed the story would end up before the young ones grew up and am glad it ended so.

Even though the narration is by the young Ishai Kalinovsky through out, I’m not from Around Here has multiple point of views which work in some places and not in others.There were too many characters mostly minor that do not contribute much to the story, which may be partly owing to the genre.

Usually I don’t read many memoirs because they would hard for me to relate to. But maybe since I’m not from Around Here had multiple POV and the narrator was a young boy I was able to relate and I ended up liking the characters.

Bottom – line

I’m not from Around Here is quite long with about 400 pages but it was totally worth the read and it left me emotionally drained for hours.

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I'm not from Around Here

Let us chat

Do you read memoirs? Is it easier to review or talk about memoir than fictions? Do you feel emotionally drained after you finish reading a book? Let’s chat. 

16 responses to “Book review: I’m not from Around Here”

  1. I haven’t read a lot of memoirs, but surprisingly, there are a lot of food memoirs that I’d love to buy and read. About 90% of the memoirs actually XD

    Also, I’m guessing you are familiar with Elie Weisel? He was actually a guest professor at my undergraduate teaching once class evert year. I didn’t take a class with him, though I did meet him briefly. My roommate however did take a class with him and was nice enough to get one of his book signed for me 🙂

    • I had to Google for Weisel and then I realized I have been complusively collecting his quotes for a while now though most of them are misquoted. I am glad I got to read more about this Nobel laureate, thanks to your suggestion. And I envy that you got to meet him.

  2. I love that anytime I stop by your blog, it’s not just the same old stuff EVERYBODY is reading. I find so many unique reads here, this one included 🙂

    • I somehow don’t get to read most of the hyped books and when I do read them, I am left disappointed. That is why I make my own choices.

  3. This looks like an interesting read. I haven’t read many holocaust stories except The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, but I definitely want to. That book left me hooked and I wanted to read more about that war era.
    I am glad that this book is after the war. Having multiple PoVs definitely helps in understanding the story much better and is easier to relate. Nice review!

  4. I just finished this book and remember you wrote a review for it! I couldn’t connect with the characters or the story. and I almost stopped reading it when I was 70% in – but then I decided to read your review and gave it another chance.

    I read it, but unfortunately it did not change my opinion much.

  5. I rarely read memoirs because I don’t really non-fiction much. Having said that though, one of my next reads is going to be a memoir that I accepted for review because I thought it was a fiction book! Whoops. This one sounds like it is definitely going to be a hard read… I can totally understand why it was emotionally draining…

    • I am gonna look forward to your review then, because you understand what I mean! We are so on the same page.

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