Los Angeles - Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Suzan Hanala Stadner ate junk food and watched a lot of bad television while trying to tune out her parents' constant bickering. Later, after moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, she fell for bad men, developed an eating disorder and suffered from serious drug and alcohol addiction.
Oh, and her parents survived the Holocaust.
All of which might not sound like promising material, but Stadner's memoir, 'My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt', is by turns tragic, bittersweet and laugh-out loud funny.
Unflinchingly honest, the book recounts how in her self-loathing and insecurity, Suzan Hanala Stadner hit rock bottom before embarking on an inspiring journey of healing. Thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous and psychotherapy, Suzan Hanala Stadner got sober and became a leading fitness instructor and the host of The Suzan Stadner Show, LA's most successful local-access cable program. She also studied psychology at UCLA, becoming a member of The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors.
But the heart of the story is Suzan Hanala Stadner's relationship with her parents. Polish Jews who hid from the Nazis during World War II. Still traumatized, they were critical and overbearing as parents. Her mother's scathing refrain, rendered in a Yiddish accent, was "You're scared? Vhat, is a Nazi chasing you? Do you live in a hole in da ground? Did you family die in da gas chambers?" As an adult, Stadner finally made her peace, winning her mother's grudging admiration and learning to see her parents as the scarred survivors they are.
Suzan Hanala Stadner's story resonates with other members of the "Second Generation" - children of Holocaust survivors: "I have read almost every book and publication that there is to read on the subject, in addition to every movie made about the Holocaust," one Second Generation survivor wrote in an Amazon.com review. "My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt was the book that hit deepest into my gut. I would personally related to the insanity growing up and the amount of humor it took to get through it."
Today Suzan Hanala Stadner maintains a private LA substance abuse counseling practice and is a popular spin instructor. She speaks nationally and has appeared on CBS Early Show, Dateline, Leeze, Extra, and other programs.
Haven't decided what to read on the beach this summer? My Parents Went Through the Holocaust and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt - a memoir by Hanala Stadner - will have you laughing and crying, but mostly laughing.
People sitting near you at the beach will think you've had a nervous breakdown. You'll be reading excerpts to your friends, sharing the parts you liked best . . . The Quaalude Years? The Brando Bit? The Hollywood Horrors? The Recovery AAA meetings?
One of the best lines: "My parents survived Hitler, I survived my parents. Ozzie and Harriet they weren't. Going through the Holocaust made them cranky." Or maybe, "Guilt, the Gift that Keeps on Giving."
Hanala stars in Traumedy Central, seen worldwide on the Jewish Life TV network (JLTV). Hanala reads excepts from her book at www.hanala.podcastpeople.com .