Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Wow! This is one of those books that begs you to not stop reading. I read late into the night and then stopped. I wanted to savor the last couple hundred pages. I was not disappointed!

This is a story of a mother and the decisions that she must make in an impossible time. Anna is the privileged German daughter of a wealthy and horrible man. She falls desperately in love with a Jewish doctor at the start of WWII. When the SS come to get Max she hides him in her home. It is here that she conceives her daughter.

Her father turns Max in and he is taken to Buchenwald, the camp near the town of Weimar where they live. Anna leaves her father's home and end up at the bakery run by a large woman with sympathies toward the Jews.

So, the next phase of Anna's life begins. After the birth of Trudy, she becomes the baker's apprentice. This continues until the baker make a fateful decision and Anna is left alone with Trudy. As she waits for her fate, a tall man with pale eyes and very small feet appears at the door. He is the head of the camp and he wants Anna for his mistress. Her or death.

The decisions made in the next several years never really leave Anna. The story moves between a modern day Trudy, searching for ways to deal with her silent elderly mother and the lives they lived through the war.

Trudy grows up knowing nothing of her history but for a small picture of her and her mother and a Nazi officer hidden in the depths of her mothers dresser drawers. Her mother refuses to say anything about their lives before being saved by Jack, the tall American.

It is through a research study on the lives of Germans during the war, that Trudy meets a man who knew her mother.

This is one of those stories that is filled with unanswered questions...why... what would I have done... is it survival worth it...

It reminds me of the Commadant's Girl and the Diplomat's Wife. Yet, it has it's own place. It is not the story of those living through the atrocities, but how those decisions continue to change the lives of the next generation. The war has ended, but the shame and the pain and the secrets continue.

I would strongly recommend this story!!! It would be another good discussion starter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Elegant Gathering of White Snows by Kris Radish

I feel like I've very unelegantly slogged through those snows from the title. The premise of this book is wonderful...eight women have been gathering at different houses to connect with one another's lives. Then following a late night session when Sandy, a 40 year old admits that she is pregnant with her lover's baby, the group decides to start walking.

And that they do... they walk out the front door and into the media frenzy that centers on them.

But, because they are in rural Wisconsin, the police and the people respect their need for privacy and keep the media hounds and the curious and the nosy and the deranged away from them and allow them to walk... just to walk. Their identities are never revealed, they are never interviewed or photographed. They simply walk.

Sounds good doesn't it! As they walk they tell their stories, they cry and they laugh and they love and they heal and they gather the strength to change their lives. To face the past and to take a new step.

As the story of the walk unfolds there are the stories of the walkers told in their own voice. It makes you understand why it is they are on the walk. There are also snippets of those sent to watch the walkers, reporters, and police. And there are tales of women who gain the courage to change their lives due to the imagined courage of the walkers.

This is the kind of book I really like. I even wrote down a quote...
"But I have learned in these days to stop lingering on what could have been and to simply to head to what I need now." It totally spoke to me...

BUT I HATE THIS BOOK! The writing is awful. I kept slogging and slogging through needless description, ridiculuos personal preaching, political blahing and cliche after cliche. Radish is a columnist - she must have an amazing editor - because this book was just crying out for a red pen.

I never react this way.. The story was so good - but there is no way I can recommend this because it's just too painful to try to read....