Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 479 (paperback)
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. Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the heartbreaking story of her mother's life. Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.
This story oscillates between the stories of Anna Schlemmer and her daughter Trudy. Anna does the unthinkable and violates one of the Reich's biggest prohibitions. The resulting pregnancy thrusts Anna into a world where Anna must only think of survival. Trudy, in a world far removed from World War II, knows nothing of her mother's past and doesn't understand why she can't surpass her mother's wall of silence.
If you are looking for a story that you can disappear into, this is the story for you. Both women are intensely affected by the effects of the war even though the women are worlds apart. Anna manages to survive despite various ethical dilemmas, pain, and struggles with her own identity. She wants to forget the past, whereas, her daughter needs the past for her own identity. Very few authors manage to create a story about an era of such heartbreak and still leave the reader enthralled and wanting more. It is deep without being too heavy or depressing. Once you start you won't want to put it down. After this book, you will go searching for more!