We Were the Lucky Ones Plot Summary & Ending Spoilers from the Book, Explained

By Lauren Rouse Posted:
We Were the Lucky Ones Joey King and Logan Lerman

We Were The Lucky Ones brings Georgia Hunt's bestselling historical fiction novel to the screen and has seen rave reviews since the first few episodes dropped on Hulu

The novel tells an emotional and harrowing story of the Kurc family, who are separated in World War II, and follows their efforts to reunite against all odds.

The Hulu series, which stars Joey King, Logan Lerman and Harry Lloyd-Hughes, premiered with three episodes on March 28, with five more still to come in the miniseries

We Were the Lucky Ones Book Summary

We Were the Lucky Ones follows the story of the Kurcs, a Polish Jewish family living in Radom.

Addy, the middle son of the family, is working as a composer and living in Paris. His mother and father, Nechuma and Sol, live in Poland with Addy's other siblings, Genek, Jakob, Halina, and Mila. 

Nechuma sends a letter to Addy warning him not to return to Poland due to the looming threat of Nazi invasion. The male siblings then join the Polish army which is defeated by the united German-Soviet army and causes Mila's husband, Selim, to go missing. 

The Kurcs are forced into one of Radom's Jewish ghettos and Jakob and Halina secretly marry their partners (Bella and Adam, respectively). Meanwhile, Addy joins the French Army, forming part of the Polish division.

Addy then decides to escape Europe and acquires a visa to Brazil. On the ship to Brazil, he meets Eliska, a young Czech woman, and falls in love, but constantly worries about his family. Addy and Eliska plan to marry upon arriving in Brazil, but he's concerned he can't be himself with her because she does not want to listen to negative things, such as his fears for his family, so they call off their engagement.

Back in Poland, the Nazis force Halina to work on a beet farm and Mila to work in a uniform shop. Genek and his wife (Herta) are sent to a work camp in Siberia after he refuses to claim Soviet citizenship. 

In 1941, the alliance between the Soviets and Germans ends, which results in Jewish massacres in the streets of Poland. Jakob, Bella, Halina, and their cousin Franka are forced to hide in basements to survive. 

Poland and the Soviets sign a peace treaty and Genek and Herta are freed from the Siberian camp, where they travel to Tel Aviv, with their newborn son, and are reunited with Mila's missing husband, Selim. Genek enlists in the Polish home army and is dispatched to Italy.

Mila and her daughter attempt to leave Radom and emigrate to America, where they believe they will be accepted, but this turns out to be a trick and the Germans instead force the gathered prisoners to dig their own graves. Mila escapes the subsequent massacre by bargaining her wedding ring with a soldier. They flee Radom and reunite with Halina who is living in Warsaw. Jakob and Bella escape from the factory they have been working and join the family in Warsaw. 

Halina finds a couple in the countryside who are willing to take payment to harbor their parents. Mila takes her daughter to a convent outside Warsaw to ride out the war. 

The Germans bomb Warsaw, but the family miraculously survives. Halina is arrested and accused of being Jewish when she attempts to seek help from her employer in Kraków and is imprisoned and tortured for four months. She is released and travels back to Warsaw after the authorities contact her former employer and they vouch for her.

How Does We Were the Lucky Ones End?

We Were the Lucky Ones dining table

After so much hardship, We Were the Lucky Ones ends with a miracle.

Following the end of the war, the Kurc family find themselves living in Łódź, Poland. They are contacted by Genek, who is in Italy with Selim and leads Halina, Mila, Felicia, Nechuma, and Sol to travel to reunite with them. 

Addy ends up marrying an American woman who is working at the embassy in Brazil. He receives a telegram from Genek who has found him through the Red Cross, and with his wife's help manages to bring the entire family (minus Bella and Jakob who have emigrated to America) from Italy to live with them in Rio de Janeiro. 

On Passover, the family celebrates, reunited all together for the first time since before the war. 

Is We Were the Lucky Ones Based on a True Story?

The final pages of the novel reveal how the events of We Were the Lucky Ones are based on Hunt's family. 

The character of Addy (played by Logan Lerman in the series) is based on Hunt's grandfather, who passed away when she was 15. The novel is inspired by the stories he passed on about her great grandparents and great aunts and uncles. 

We Were The Lucky Ones has been praised (via Reform Judaism) for its vivid descriptions of life during World War II and its harrowing yet life-affirming tale of resilience and family. The series has seen similar praise with a 100% critical approval score on Rotten Tomatoes.

We Were the Lucky Ones is streaming on Hulu.

Read about other book-to-screen adaptations:

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- In This Article: We Were the Lucky Ones
Release Date
March 28, 2024
Joey King
Logan Lerman
- About The Author: Lauren Rouse
Lauren Rouse has been a writer at The Direct since the site launched in 2020. She has a huge passion for everything pop culture and currently writes news articles for the Marvel, Star Wars, DC and video game branches.