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Yonkers Author Unravels Tale Of Little Known Holocaust Story

Yonkers author Yvette Manessis Corporon has written a new book, "Something Beautiful Happened." Photo Credit: Submitted
"Something Beautiful Happened" is a new book by Yonkers author Yvette Manessis Corporon. Photo Credit: Submitted

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y.-- Yvette Manessis Corporon is a three-time Emmy Award–winning writer, author, and producer at NBC's EXTRA who tells other people's stories for a living. But when it came time to tell her own, it took a while.

The Yonkers resident, who lives on the Bronxville border, grew up listening to her grandmother’s stories about how the people of Erikousa, a small Greek island, hid a Jewish family—a tailor named Savvas and his daughters—from the Nazis during World War II.

Nearly 2,000 Jews from that area died in the concentration camps but even though everyone on Erikousa knew Savvas and his family were hiding on the island, no one ever gave them up, and the family survived the war.

She used part of her Ya-Ya's story (her grandmother was among those who helped hide the family) in her 2014 debut novel, "When The Cypress Whispers." When that small part of the story hit a chord -- both within herself and her readers -- she knew she had an obligation to delve deeper.

The result is her new nonfiction book, "Something Beautiful Happened," about her journey to find the Savvas descendants and to give recognition to the beloved Greek island her father and grandmother grew up on.

The book, on sale Tuesday, Sept. 12, takes readers on a globe-trotting journey across the U.S -- Manessis Corporon spoke with a host of Holocaust survivors who knew the girls her grandmother helped save -- as well as to Greece and Israel, where the Savvas descendants live.

Her tearful reunion with the family -- many had no idea about the Erikousa story --- was proof to the Yonkers author that evil doesn’t always win. But just days after she made the connection, her cousin’s child was gunned down in a parking lot in Kansas, a victim of a Neo-Nazi attack. Despite her best hopes, she was forced to confront the fact that 70 years after the Nazis were defeated, it was still happening today.

It's why she's hopeful people will walk away from her book recognizing the power of kindness. "Today, especially in the world we live in, I think we all need to be mindful of how life changing a simple act of kindness can be, and how it can affect lives and families for generations to come," she says.

She also wants the book to be a catalyst that gets people thinking about what they would do when faced with hatred or evil. "Would you stand up and do the right thing? Would you have the strength to take a stand and stand for what is right even when everything and everyone around you is so terribly wrong?" she says.

The mom of two also wants the book to be a tool that inspires thought and conversation about interfaith awareness. "I still cannot wrap my head around the staggering number of families that have lost loved ones to genocide or hate crimes. It is enough now," she says. "It has to stop."

She will be speaking -- and signing books -- at the Eastchester Barnes & Noble on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.

And stay tuned for more. TV journalist that she is, Manessis Corporon is also at work on a documentary with the Emmy winning team at Anaconda Street Productions.

Says the author: "When the documentary is done, which will be in the next few months, viewers will experience every moment of this incredible story and journey as it unfolds."

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