The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life

  • Review
By – December 30, 2020

Not many self-help books are writ­ten by writ­ers in their nineties, but for those famil­iar with the work of Dr. Edith Eger, the pub­li­ca­tion of her most recent book, The Gift, will come as no sur­prise. She pub­lished her first book, The Choice, in 2017, and the world met an Auschwitz sur­vivor who once danced for the mon­strous Dr. Men­gele, and who, to this day, still ends all of her lec­tures with a defi­ant dancer’s high kick.

Three years after her now clas­sic mem­oir, Dr. Eger’s new work, The Gift, repeats many of the salient points of The Choice, cen­ter­ing around the idea that no mat­ter how harsh our cir­cum­stances, we retain the choice to rein­ter­pret them and give new mean­ing and pur­pose to our lives. But what it adds is a cogent set of rules to live by. Again, she stress­es our abil­i­ty to rise above the worst aspects of our lives, what­ev­er they may be, and to choose not to define our­selves by them. The title alludes to this gift of restora­tion that we must all grant our­selves – free­ing our­selves from the self-imposed pris­ons of mem­o­ry, guilt, and sor­row. If a con­cen­tra­tion camp sur­vivor can rise from the ash­es like a phoenix, she sug­gests, so can we. As Edith reflects on her encoun­ters at Auschwitz, she poet­i­cal­ly con­cludes: I was blessed with the insight that the Nazis were more impris­oned than I was. […] The Nazis’ pow­er came from sys­tem­at­ic dehu­man­iza­tion and exter­mi­na­tion. My strength and free­dom were within.”

When Edith Eger talks about an inner sanc­tu­ary of strength and free­dom” from with­in, she knows bet­ter than any­one what these pow­er­ful words mean. In shar­ing them with the world, Dr. Eger has indeed giv­en a gift. Her book does not mere­ly teach the steps to a more per­fect life; instead, she shows us how to face our set­backs, how­ev­er cru­el, by means of transcendence.

Sonia Taitz, a Ramaz, Yale Law, and Oxford grad­u­ate, is the author of five books, includ­ing the acclaimed sec­ond gen­er­a­tion” mem­oir, The Watch­mak­er’s Daugh­ter, and the nov­el, Great with Child. Praised for her warmth and wit by Van­i­ty Fair, The New York Times Book Review, Peo­ple and The Chica­go Tri­bune, she is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a nov­el about the Zohar, the mys­ti­cal source of Jew­ish transcendence.

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