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 choice...life 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 ok...is 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!