When We Return is a moving story about the value acts of remembrance have on mental health, creating new memories for upcoming generations.

4-STAR REVIEW: When We Return by Eliana Tobias

About The Book

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Who should be held responsible for public wrong? By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens after the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.

Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager to have their pain and suffering acknowledged. But they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.

Things begin to look up however when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggled his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia’s feelings. Together, Otilia, Jerry and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma. And through it, find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves to love and companionship.

Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, this novel examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when out past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.



The Review

Two people from different walks of life find meaning as survivors bonded by family ties as refugees. Author Eliana Tobias provides insightful parallels in When We Return.

Jerry Gold is the son of a Jewish refugee who fled his homeland in Eastern Europe to escape the Nazis, spent time in Bolivia, and settled in the United States. When he’s contacted by a man from Bolivia claiming he is a relative, Jerry starts digging into the past.

Otilia Perez had escaped civil war-torn Peru two decades ago for San Francisco and never gave up trying to reunite with her husband and their son. It wasn’t until her son was an adult that they finally found each other again. Now, the Peruvian government was seeking testimony from those impacted.

Two seemingly unrelated storylines intersect on a plane ride to Peru. As the two main characters get to know each other, the similarities of their family journeys become evident. The author focuses on an eight-year time span from 2008 to 2016 but also flashes back to the 30 years surrounding Jerry’s father’s escape from Czechoslovakia. This adds an important dimension to illustrate the danger of being a Jewish refugee.

The struggle of the characters to achieve closure is well articulated, with Otilia noting people tend to carry their trauma silently. The problem, however, is that the trauma gets passed on to the next generation. There’s a lot of reflection on how to effectively mark periods of history filled with pain and suffering.

When We Return is a moving story about the value acts of remembrance have on mental health, creating new memories for upcoming generations.

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About The AuthorEliana Tobias was born in Santiago, Chile, to immigrant parents who escaped the Holocaust. She graduated from the University of Chile then completed other degrees in early childhood and special education in the United States and
Canada. After working in this field in various capacities, including teaching at the National University of Trujillo in Peru, she moved to Vancouver, where she has lived for thirty years and where she discovered her love of writing. Her rich
experience of political turmoil, of listening to stories of the Holocaust when Jewish communities in Europe were shattered, of losing family in Chile under military dictatorship, and living in Peru during a time of intense civil conflict, fueled her passion to write about the ways in which people caught in devastation
rebuild their lives. Eliana Tobias lives in Vancouver, B.C.


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Amy Wilson
Amy Wilson
My name is Amy W., and I am a book addict. I will never forget the day I came home from junior high school to find my mom waiting for me with one of the Harlequin novels from my stash. As she was gearing up for the "you shouldn't be reading this" lecture, I told her the characters get married in the end. I'm just glad she didn't find the Bertrice Small book hidden in my closet. I have diverse reading tastes, evident by the wide array of genres on my Kindle. As I made the transition to an e-reader, I found myself worrying that something could happen to it. As a result, I am now the proud owner of four Kindles -- all different kinds, but plenty of back-ups! "Fifty Shades of Grey" gets high marks on my favorites list -- not for character development or dialogue (definitely not!), but because it blazed new ground for those of us who believe provocative fiction is more than just an explicit cover. Sylvia Day, Lexie Blake, and Kristin Hannah are some of my favorite authors. Speaking of diverse tastes, I also enjoy Dean Koontz, Iris Johansen, and J.A. Konrath. I’m always ready to discover new-to-me authors, especially when I toss in a palate cleanser that is much different than what I would normally read. Give me something with a well-defined storyline, add some suspense (or spice), and I am a happy reader. Give me a happily ever after, and I am downright giddy.



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When We Return is a moving story about the value acts of remembrance have on mental health, creating new memories for upcoming generations.4-STAR REVIEW: When We Return by Eliana Tobias