Saturday, January 18, 2014

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

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 Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and 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.

My summary: 3 looks

My F2F seems to love reading books dealing with WWI and the holocaust. This book, however, was different in that it dealt with the German side of the equation. What did the Germans go through and tolerate who were left in the cities that the Nazis decimated? To what lengths would they go to in order to feed their families and protect their children? This book tells the story nicely.


However, I wanted more resolution at the end between the mother and daughter. I wanted to know why Anna refused to talk to Trudy. Why did Trudy change the spelling of her name? Would she ever know truly who her father was and what happened to him? Why did the townspeople dislike Trudy so, even to the point of disgracing her after Jack's funeral? What happened to the cameraman after the project was complete?

This book could almost have a sequel, for all of the unanswered questions. However, there isn't enough story left to justify another book; just may unanswered questions.

With that in mind, my rating is 3 instead of 4 looks. It was a very enjoyable book, but I could have used about 50 more pages to tie up loose ends. Recommended.

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