Sometimes I found this book as difficult to pick up as it was to put down. I do most of my reading at night after I go to bed and the opening chapters were so intense that I could barely get through them. The suspense and tension were incredible as the author transports you to Germany during the Third Reich. I remember being told many years ago that ethical dilemmas make excellent stories and that is certainly the case here. As Hitler’s regime assumed power, the brutality employed to demand compliance placed many good, law-abiding citizens in a very precarious position. This story chronicles how one particular family dealt with these challenges, how some had no choice but to obey while others stuck to their beliefs and morals regardless of consequences.
This incredible book took me through the entire spectrum of emotions. I felt their fear, determination, frustration, heartbreak and strength. It’s loaded with surprises that sometimes left me gasping, yet they rang true and were not contrived. The main character, Hedwig, is a strong, determined woman who refuses to compromise her standards. All of the characters are compelling, their motivation convincing. The relationships between them are often complex yet entirely believable, especially given the precarious wartime setting. The fact the author drew the premise for this story from her own family history makes it all the more intense and unforgettable. Those of us who have lived a relatively peaceful life have no idea what much of the world faces on a day to day basis. This book had additional meaning to me because I have a dear friend who was born in Berlin in 1943 and grew up playing on post-war rubble, wondering where the next meal was coming from.
If you enjoy suspense, mystery and intrigue in an historical setting that takes you back to another place and time this book is for you. The fact I found some parts emotionally difficult is testimony to the author’s ability to draw the reader into the story. This is indeed a novel that will stay with you, leaving you a slightly different person by the time you finish, as if you, too, were part of the horror of Nazi Germany. As they say, those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it. Witnessing the hard choices ordinary citizens were faced with provides a much needed reminder that freedom is not something to be taken for granted.
(Be sure to see my Interview with author, Rhoda D’Ettore in the “Interviews” section.)
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/newborn-nazi-rhoda-dettore/1120331304