When We Return


“A spellbinding narrative that spans two continents Europe and Latin America at pivotal times of history. We are drawn to the life of its characters those that escaped the fractured world of the Holocaust and those in Latin America who struggled for truth and justice. Eliana Tobias has written a mesmerizing novel where history is braided with humanity. A passionate tale of resilience and fortitude.”

-Marjorie Agosin, Wellesley College, award-winning poet and novelist, author of The Butterfly Hill Series.

 “A story about reparations and redemption, When We Return weaves decades and continents, victims of the Holocaust and those reeling from terrorism in Peru, with the struggles of loss and injustice. Tobias explores with insight and compassion the familial bonds that sustain us, to ultimately reveal the healing that comes from family, love, and shared humanity.”

-Claire Ibarra, author of Fragile Saints and Vortex of Our Affection

 “In a novel with as many victims as there are survivors, Eliana depicts the phenomenal resilience of love that can bridge displaced families across borders and beyond time. A Thoughtful writer, giving readers history and fiction in equal servings, her words are prime and elegant, adding richness to a beautiful retelling of an ugly past.”

-Mari Jojie, author of A Hundred Silent Ways

 “In this thought-provoking novel, the author traces generational history for those who are the recipients of life shattering events. Tobias seeks and provides answers to questions of rights of recipients of outrageous historical behavior and to what forms such reparations may take. Personalizing such problems, the novel gives an historical background from the Peruvian Shining Path guerilla movement to the European Holocaust and shows through keen characterization how the sharp light of history reflecting national crimes impacts on both the recipients and future generations. Can new relationships provide solace to those long ago destroyed? A must read for philosophical and historical students and deep thinkers, everywhere. A highly original and different type of novel.”

-Suzanne Hillier, author of My Best Friend Was Angela Bennett and Sonia and Carl

“The author, a daughter of Holocaust survivors who narrowly escaped the Shoah in 1939, was raised in Chile worked in Peru. As a Jewish Latina familiar with South and North America, her unique window into life and political events provide penetrating and perceptive observations on the all too human issues caused by displacement as well as generational trauma. Eliana Tobias weaves a tapestry of trauma as experienced by a Peruvian victimized by the Shining Path guerillas and an American, affected by his father’s preoccupation as a Jewish Czech refugee. Equally compelling is the struggle of the affected individuals to confront memory and seek justice, each of which proves to be an enormous challenge. After all, the perpetrators rely on the erosion of memory and the avoidance of justice. This story may help inspire those who know that silence is not the answer.”

-Robert Krell MD, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, author of Sounds from Silence

5* – A succulent and contemplative story that will leave you in awe

“When We Return” by Eliana Tobias is a punchy historical fiction novel that revolves around Peru’s history, the 1990 terrorism act, the atrocious leadership of President Alberto Fujimori, and the aftermath of the horrible chaos on Peru’s citizens.

The story features Otilia, a woman from Peru who is forced to abandon her seven-year-old son Salvador and her husband Miguel, at the height of devastating political unrest in the nation, which not only swiveled her life and that of her family out of control but also sent her packing to San Francisco as a refugee, miles away from home.

Years later, Otilia struggles to reconnect with her husband and son who are still missing, and with her property getting misappropriated, stolen, and sold away back in her home country, the future looks bleak to her. Salvador, on the other hand, is now an adult, with troubles of his own but a call from the Forensic Medicine Institute where he had left his DNA in the hope of finding his missing father is about to change his life forever.

Eliana Tobias has done impeccable work. The story ping-pongs along at an even pace, suitable for readers to connect with key characters and understand their temperament. She does not offer quick solutions to their problems but instead offers sustainable suspense to keep the reader glued to their seats to the very end. The characters too have their flaws which at times limit their decision-making and at other times, their strengths show off beautifully in various scenes. This culminates in an exquisitely composed story that is bracingly unpredictable, which teaches and informs while also providing romanticist entertainment in equal measure.

“When We Return” swiftly arrays rich historical information and knowledge about a bleak time in history such as the Holocaust, World War II, the rebel group in Peru, and the government’s role, involvement, and response to its priority duty of protecting its citizens. The author encourages justice, healing, truth, and reconciliation while at the same time criticizing the trampling of human rights, lawlessness, and racist violence. Unrivaled storytelling, dazzling characters, and rich historical detail is the trademark of Tobias’ five-star genre-arching work.

-Lily Andrews for Reader Views

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