Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum

Those Who Save UsThose Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum
★★★★★ and a ♥ contender

Synopsis: 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.
In A Sentence: Such a beautiful, sad story. It had me until the end.

What Was Wonderful: Okay, so I've inadvertently been on a historical fiction kick lately, particularly with regard to World War Two. I've been finding the insight to this awful war really fascinating, since all I can remember about what I learned in high school was Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust. These books have been showing me very different perspectives, ones that I've never considered before.
This story seemed so sad to me. The things Anna had to endure in order to survive! She did so much for the sake of her daughter, it was just so tragic! And Trudy! I loved how she was a German history professor doing research on Germans during the war. It provided additional insight, so you ended up with a more well-rounded knowledge of the time period, which, as an anthropology major, I appreciated very much.
Oh And The Ending! Throughout the whole book I would get a little impatient. I mean, the plot was pretty straightforward-- you immediately from the beginning what would happen: a big reveal. So I kept wondering when it was going to happen. The book was still fantastic but I wanted that big reveal. But when it did finally happen, I was completely thrown. I knew immediately what it was when I reached it, but I kept thinking, "Whoa! Didn't expect it that way!" It had me glued to my seat! What a wonderful execution!
What Others Didn't Like: I honestly can't think of anything bad to say about this book. Some people thought that were some unanswered questions at the end, but I didn't think so. Sure it seems that way at first, but then once you think about it, the questions answer themselves. And one person who wrote a review mentioned that there were some small historical inaccuracies regarding the civilians of Weimar. My knowledge of German history beyond this book is practically non-existent, but I disagree about the inaccuracies. The way they treated Anna in the end made sense (they were terrified of getting shot and figured they could put all the blame on her instead).
So Recommend This! This was an excellent read! Tragic and sad, yet informative and interesting. I thought it was very well written, able to stay tragic and sad without going into a downright depression. I would strongly recommend this to just about any fiction lover, particularly lovers of historical fiction. A must-read through and through!

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