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Garner, Eleanor Ramrath 1930-

Garner, Eleanor Ramrath 1930-

PERSONAL:

Born May 25, 1930, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Josef (an engineer) and Mathilde (a homemaker) Ramrath; married Louis J. Garner (an accounting executive), September 22, 1951 (deceased); children: James, Thomas. Ethnicity: "White." Education: Attended Boston University. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Painting in oils, gardening, hiking, "student of C.G. Jung."

ADDRESSES:

Home—San Diego, CA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Episcopal Community Services, grant writer and social worker, 1975-80; Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York, NY, copyright and permissions editor for college textbooks, 1980-93; freelance permissions editor and copyright consultant for textbook publishers, 1993-99.

MEMBER:

National League of American Pen Women, Foothills Art Association, Art Alliance, San Diego Museum Artists Guild, Friends of Jung of San Diego (founding member).

AWARDS, HONORS:

San Diego Book Award for children's nonfiction, 1999, selection as notable trade book for young people in social studies, National Council for the Social Studies and Children's Book Council, 2000, Children's Book Award, International Reading Association and Children's Book Council, 2000, inclusion among books for the teen age, New York Public Library, 2000, inclusion among best books for young adults, American Library Association and Young Adult Library Services Association, 2000, teacher's choice citation, 2000, and young adult's choice citation, 2001, both International Reading Association, all for Eleanor's Story: Am American Girl in Hitler's Germany.

WRITINGS:

Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany (memoir), Peachtree Press (Atlanta, GA), 1999.

Author of children's stories. Contributor of articles on psychology and religion to periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS:

After a decade spent working in the publishing field as a permissions editor, Eleanor Ramrath Garner took the suggestion of a colleague and wrote a book of her own: Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany. The American-born daughter of German immigrants to the United States, nine-year-old Garner suddenly found herself an outsider in Germany after her parents returned there in 1939 after her father accepted a two-year-long engineering position in Berlin. Then war broke out, and the intended two years turned into a seven-year ordeal. Garner continued her childhood habit of keeping diaries and creating poetry albums as an outlet for her feelings. It would be to this material, as well as family photographs and letters, that Garner returned to many years later when she set out to write her memoir, a process that proved to be both painful and cathartic.

In Eleanor's Story Garner describes her efforts to avoid trouble while at the same time abhorring the Nazi culture of cruelty and prejudice. Like others, her family suffered hunger, experienced bombings by Allied forces, mourned the death of friends, survived the battle of Berlin, and withstood occupation by Soviet forces. These experiences comprised much of Garner's childhood, as she had reached her teen years by the time she returned to the United States.

For Garner, writing Eleanor's Story proved to be a healing experience. She commented: "After completing my memoirs, I felt a forgiveness of the past. The child buried beneath the rubble of painful memories was restored to her rightful place in my personality. It has left me with a sense of wholeness. The split between the young girl and the older woman has been healed."

For its truthfulness and evocative qualities, Eleanor's Story garnered positive reviews. Heidi Borton, writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, commented on the "immediacy and power in her recollections," calling the work "outstanding." Borton also found Eleanor's relationship with her father to be of "particular interest." Garner's "story is rich in detail and insight," observed Sandra Morton in Book Report. So too, Booklist reviewer Anne O'Malley called the memoir "stunning," explaining, "This powerful coming-of-age tale is told with intensity and also the freshness of teenage years remembered."

For Garner, Eleanor's Story is more than simply her own family's story. "I see Eleanor's Story not so much as a looking back at the past, but more as a collective remembrance, a common experience true on many different levels, one that not only reflects my personal history, but the larger one as well," she explained. "It's an historical document, written from the unusual perspective of an American teen whose eye-witness account describes daily life under the Nazi regime and the struggle of civilians for survival. The book seeks to pull the reader into the heart of war and how the young girl coped with the tragedies that unfolded around her, what sustained her, what gave her hope and strength to endure in the face of great odds. In essence, it's a story about growing up too fast against the backdrop of monumental events in world history.

"Wartime historical nonfiction tells the personal side of conflicts. These stories are of real people, how they lived, how they coped with the tragedy and horror of war. They speak for the masses and for the kind of society they lived under. These stories tell a truth that needs to be told."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Garner, Eleanor Ramrath, Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany, Peachtree Press (Atlanta, GA), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 1999, Anne O'Malley, review of Eleanor's Story: An American Girl in Hitler's Germany, p. 354; March 15, 2000, review of Eleanor's Story, p. 1339; July, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Eleanor's Story, p. 2026.

Book Report, February, 2000, Sandra Morton, review of Eleanor's Story.

La Jolla Light, November 11, 1999, review of Eleanor's Story, p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, May 1, 1999, Bob Summer, "From Peachtree a Historic Memoir," p. 12.

Scholastic Scope, April 11, 2003, "War: One Woman's Memories" and Mary Harvey, "Hope in a Time of War" (interview).

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1999, Heidi Borton, review of Eleanor's Story; July, 2000, "Best of the Year—Holocaust Literature for Youth," p. 2026.

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