Friday, January 4, 2008

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blume

This novel is set during the WWII era and is narrated by the main character's daughter. The main character, a beautiful, young German woman, falls in love with the Jewish vet in her community. They begin an affair - her first physical attachment, which results in a pregnancy and, unfortunately, his capture and deportation to a nearby concentration camp. Anna has the baby and struggles to survive in war time. She eventually comes under the protection of a high ranking Nazi official who is a bit ruthless and self-centered. She does not love the man and views his advances as a chore and tedious, but this saves her life and the life of her daughter.

Anna leads a bit of a double life and helps the Jews at the camp - always watching for her love. When Germany is falling apart, her Nazi lover makes arrangements to get her out of Germany but he can't take the girl. Obviously, the woman stays - she will not leave her daughter. A young American GI takes her under his wing (she does always seem to play the part of weak young damsel in distress), they marry, and move to the US. Though he loves her and is kind to her, she can't get past the thought of her Nazi protector and their time together. The shame he put her through has spoiled her and she lacks the capacity to let herself love.

The narrator, Anna's daughter, meanwhile struggles as an adult to understand her mother's role in the war as she refuses to share any of her experiences. Anna's daughter has spent her adult life believing the Nazi was her father as she remembers bits of him, and she has found a picture hidden in her mother's drawer of the three of them . It is only later in the book that she comes to learn the truth.