Reviewing Raki Kopernick’s The Memory House


Megan Probach, Contributing Writer

Raki Kopernick’s The Memory House serves as a memoir to span multiple generations of war and survival as a Jewish household sustaining itself through the conflicts in Israel after World War II. It is written in memory fragments, where although a story is being described through the eyes of her mother or grandmother or other family member, Kopernick often reflects and foils these memories with her own and how, “Our memories tangle into a single memory house (pg 18).” 

The Memory House brings to life the essence of experiencing a moment in time through the senses – the smell of the Midwest compared to the Middle East, the cucumbers, tomatoes, and chocolate. Kopernick builds within The Memory House the structure of each of the members of her family through their tribulations and childhoods, how their decisions ultimately impacted their lives through the many generations, and how their cultures survived and live through her and her memories in the present. “Ancestral roots tangled so deep, my memory lost them,” Kopernick shares to explain how, though some memories might be lost to her, they are kept through others in her family.  

Through generations, stories of our ancestors often disappear unshared or forgotten. In her writing, Kopernick perfectly contains the emotions of loss faded through time, and the hollow ache of something missing that can never be returned. Within The Memory House, Kopernick reveals her longing for the pieces of history that she can’t have, and missed opportunity. “I wish I could go back and remember (pg 107).” Do we not all ponder the little moments in life, and where they’ve gone, or how we could have faced them differently? 

Kopernick also shares within The Memory House something that Minnesotans most likely will never experience; Alongside the growth of her family, we are provided a peek at growing up surrounded by the treachery of war and the ultimate impact of generational trauma from food insecurity and poverty. “You get used to death,” Kopernick says on page 68, “But the way it feels doesn’t change.” For those who have read Night by Elie Wiesel, you will find connection here with Kopernick’s Safta during her time in a Jewish prison.  

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading poetry, biographies, and autobiographies. The reflective nature of The Memory House should serve as a reminder to return to our roots, may that be growing up in the suburbs, small rural towns, or entire other countries on a journey of immigration. Our backgrounds may shape us, but our memories keep us together.