Category: Reviews, Interviews and Other Posts

What did I realize in the course of my searches? These seven things among many others:

First, That it’s possible to change the present outcome of past sorrows in my case the traumas of war, family feuds and mental illness. Delving into and coming to understand the inter-generational effects of these trauma for Mother, for the family and for myself has made me more accepting and free of the tensions of family secrets and prohibitions.  I am no longer a girl looking for her father; I know who I came from  and I have a more accurate sense of who I am.  Finding Mother’s sisters has given me a greater feeling of belonging than I’ve ever known.  This is intergenerational healing -true for for my children and their children as well as for myself.

 Happily, Utne Reader has posted the first chapter of the book online:

 Is it possible to miss someone you’ve never known? The Beauty of What Remains (She Writes Press, 2015), by Susan Johnson Hadler, is a memoir about discovering missing members of a family and then bringing them back together — all while traveling through midwestern America, France and Germany to do it. This excerpt, which details the beginning of Hadler’s life and her father’s death during World War II, is from Chapter 1, “Questions.”

David Abrams of The Quivering Pen, a book blog, published a story I wrote about writing my story.  It begins:  “I knew I had a story but I had no words.”

Susan reads from her book on The Author’s Corner.  Type her name in search and click:



Susan Hadler August 24, 2015

“Parts of Hadler’s family tree was shrouded in darkness.  When she was only a few months old, she lost her father at the end of World War II to a mine explosion, an event that so shattered her mother that she refused to talk to her children about him, instead starting a new life and family by marrying again.  Hadler’s search for her father as an adult, a journey that took her to the last places on earth that he walked, serves as a prelude in this meditative memoir to her quest to discover what happened to her mother’s estranged sisters.  What she discovers is a legacy of loss and mental illness, with repercussions for the generations that followed.  Her years as a psychotherapist are evident in her measured, sympathetic treatment of the struggles faced by those in the family who used silence to cover tragedy.  Both an exploration of loss and a celebration of discovering connections, The Beauty of What Remains is a moving account of one woman’s efforts to make her family whole.” Booklist


Susan Hadler May 18, 2015
Susan Hadler

Susan Johnson Hadler

Interview by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

How hard was it to write this book?  The hardest part was fear of upsetting my family.  The first book I wrote, Lost in the Victory, which I co-authored with Ann Mix, touched my mother’s deep, deep pain at the death of her husband in WWII.  The family circled its wagons around Mother, and I was cut off from them for several years.  This time I was very careful to give everyone the chance to read the manuscript.  Their enthusiasm and help was indescribably precious to me and a source of encouragement beyond anything I could imagine.  I would have written it all down for my children and myself without their acceptance, but their trust and support kept me going all the way to a book.

Almost everyone inherits some form of trouble from past generations.  I was born into a family with missing people, the result of war, family feuds and mental illness.  The door to information about them was locked and I didn’t have the key.  Who were they?  What happened to them?  Where were they?  Did I look like any of them?