Finally... a decent book!
I believe this was a pick from my office book club, and I'm finally getting around to it months and months later. But I'm so glad that I decided to read it!
Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum, is (in a nutshell) a mother/daughter drama about World War II.
It approaches the Holocaust from a very unique angle: the German perspective, which I thought this was incredibly risky on Blum's part. But she managed to turn it into an extremely compelling story, and I was intrigued right from the start.
"For 50 years, Anna has refused to talk about her life in Germany during WWII. Her daughter, Trudy, was only 3 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.
Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating her past, and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life."
Passion, a doomed love story, life during the war, mother/daughter drama... this book had it all. It seamlessly integrates stories from two different time periods being experienced by two different women. I do admit I was usually anxious to get back to Anna's story during the war, but Blum also created interesting twists and turns in Trudy's story, as she searches for answers and love in the modern world.
As someone with German heritage, I found myself thinking a lot about how people still perceive Germans who were involved in the Holocaust. This book provided an interesting, unique, and personal perspective of a woman and her child who lived and suffered through a war that they had no wish to be a part of. Unfortunately, this meant utilizing wartime survival tactics that ended up haunting them for the rest of their lives.
Those Who Save Us had excellent characterization, and seemed to be fairly historically accurate. I thought it was touching without being sappy, and I think Blum took a bold step in putting out such a unique World War II perspective.