A Memoir of Trauma in the Third Generation

Claire Sicherman

Imprint is a profound and courageous exploration of trauma, family, and the importance of breaking silence and telling stories. This book is a fresh and startling combination of history and personal revelation.

When her son almost died at birth and her grandmother passed away, something inside of Claire Sicherman snapped. Her body, which had always felt weighed down by unknown hurt, suddenly suffered from chronic health conditions, and her heart felt cleaved in two. Her grief was so large it seemed to encompass more than her own lifetime, and she became determined to find out why.

Sicherman grew up reading Anne Frank and watching Schindler’s List with almost no knowledge of the Holocaust’s impact on her specific family. Though most of her ancestors were murdered in the Holocaust, Sicherman’s grandparents didn’t talk about their trauma and her mother grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia completely unaware she was even Jewish. Now a mother herself, Sicherman uses vignettes, epistolary style, and other unconventional forms to explore the intergenerational transmission of trauma, about the fact that genes can be altered and carry memories, which are then passed down-a genetic imprinting.

With astounding grace and strength, Sicherman weaves together a story that not only honours her ancestors but offers the truth to the next generation and her now nine-year-old son. A testimony of the connections between mind and body, the past and the present, Imprint is devastatingly beautiful-ultimately a story of love and survival.

“Claire Sicherman’s debut, Imprint, is an honest, raw, experimental epistolary narrative about inherited intergenerational trauma – oftentimes a lyrical account of ancestral memory, this is a story about the body, and the bodies from which a body comes. This newcomer joins the ranks of literary nonfiction masters such as Lidia Yuknavitch and Maggie Nelson in her innovative approach to prose and self as subject. [..] There is no way Imprint will not imprint itself upon every single person who decides to read it.”
—Sarah Elizabeth Schantz, author of Fig

“This thoughtful book is a powerful and helpful read for anyone dealing with the consequences of a painful past. The author’s quest suggests the possibility of transforming the dark cloud of torment into a life imbued with purpose and meaning”
—Robert Krell, MD, Founding President, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

“Through her writing, she graciously lets us into her process—and encourages us to undertake a form of it ourselves, in relation to whatever family circumstances and unexplored family stories we, too, may have. Her hope is that we can all find a way in.”
—Amy Reiswig, Focus on Victoria

“Despite the distance of being a third-generation Holocaust survivor, her writing captures the beauty and intimacy of family affection (“My Babi,” “My Deda”). Hope of healing and surviving trauma permeate the pages of this creative book, offering acceptance and guidance to others of her – and the next – generation.”
—Dolores Luber, The Jewish Independent

“Sicherman presents herself to the reader with unflinching candour. Her depression, melancholy, rage, physical ailments, pain, and months of no sleep, as well as her hopefulness and achievements and contentment, are laid out with precise clarity…”
—Mark Dwor, The Ormsby Review