Posted by: istop4books | August 31, 2010

THOSE WHO SAVE US by Jenna Blum

Our September book club choice. This book started out on a bad note with a mixed metaphor. I was dubious, but gave it the benefit of the doubt and a few more chapters – one more WWII novel. I was not too sure it was worth the read, but this book gripped me from the start and kept me reading until the end. and I am now very glad I did.

It’s the story of Anna, a young German girl who in WWII befriends Max, a Jew, and gives birth to his child, Trudy. When her father (a loyal Nazi) finds out, Anna is banned from her home and from her father’s love and is forced to deal with life in a war zone and bringing up her daughter alone, in as best the way she can, which almost always means compromising something – her values, her health, the life of her daughter, her dignity.

It’s also the story of Trudy, who after the war came to live in the United States, in fact in Minnesota. (some very funny bits about Minnesota are included in the book) Trudy grows up to become a professor of German history – but the one history that eludes her is her mother’s past. Anna refuses to talk of Trudy’s father, of how she survived the horrors of war, or of her feelings.

The book poses some very real questions, as the story is narrated both from Anna’s time in the war and Trudy’s time as a professor in Minnesota. It is unapologetic and just lays it all out for the reader to either judge – or not. Not nearly as many books are written from the viewpoint of the Germans as from the viewpoint of the Jews. Not that this book in any way, shape or form condones anything done by the Germans towards the Jews. It just portrays the hardships of being a thinking, caring German during this time of intense hatred and violence.

We all hope that had we been in that situation we would act with honor and courage, putting our lives out there – but would we? Could we? The wave of public opinion is quite a strong one and has a deep influence on many people. On top of that, if we indeed could rise above the opinions of the masses, would we put our children in danger? Would we cave in to pressure as we watch our babies dying of starvation? Personally, I sincerely hope I never have to find out. Because I’ve never been put to the test, I will never truly know what I would do.

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Responses

  1. Mmmm–sounds interesting. I have a book review section on my blog that I just started, but there’s nothing there compared to the bounties on your blog! Love it!

  2. Belated thanks for your comments. With me, flattery will get you EVERYWHERE!!

    I hope you continue with your book reviews. For me, they finish the reading process, especially for books for which I hold a strong opinion. And as an added bonus, 6 months after reading a book, when I can no longer remember plot, characters or themes – it’s a source of instant recall!!


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