"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Review: Those Who Save Us

For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmf├╝hrer of Buchenwald.

Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.

Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother-daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame (Cover Blurb).

I have always been drawn to literature and fiction that takes place or is about WW2 and the Holocaust. I just can't image what it was like for the millions of Jews who suffered under the hand of Hitler and the SS. However, despite this odd attraction, I must really be in the mood to read one of these many books. Last week, when searching the shelves for something new to read, I stumbled upon this book, lost in the back of my book shelf. I really think I bought the book based mainly on my impression of the cover, and then for what the blurb said. It sounded different to me then many of the other books I had read about this time and I was in the mood for something a bit *different.*

This novel starts out by introducing us to both Anna and Trudy at the funeral of Jack - Anna's late husband and Trudy's step father. After only a few pages, we are quickly transported back in time to a young Anna, and her father Gerhard. It is in these few pages that we are introduced to Max, a Jewish Doctor who will forever change Anna's life. The story continues to jump back and forth between past and present, but its not confusing because of the wonderful way the author and publishers have set up the text.

We learn that Trudy knows nothing of her true father, Max - all along thinking she is a product of her mother's love for an SS Officer. As the story continues, Trudy, desperate to find something out about her past, begins a historical documentary project in which she interviews Germans who survived the war and what they went through during this time period. Trudy hopes that by doing so she will learn not only something about her past, but something about her mother, who is tight lipped and refuses to talk about the past. At the same time, through flashbacks, we learn the true story of Anna and Trudy during the years of WW2.

I absolutely adored this book, and think that it will be the top novel of 2008 for me. The one thing that I personally did not enjoy about the novel was the fact that it was written in third person. This took a few minutes to get used to, but once I was the time flew with this novel. I would recommend this to anyone who loves strong, even character development. This novel pulls you into the story and you soon forget where you are. I felt so much for Anna throughout the whole thing, that at times I was close to tears with her struggles. This book is definitely a keeper for me, and I will be passing it on to my mom and friends to read also.

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