this is the sixth book i’ve read that’s set in europe, and the fourth of those six set during world war ii. this was not done intentionally, but i’m not sorry for it either.
genre: historical fiction
synopsis: a man in the polish resistance saves the life of a german jewish girl, then sends her to south africa for her safety, only to find his path cross with hers again years later
setting: poland and south africa, mid 1900s
what i loved: i’ve always loved a good world war ii novel – they were some of my favorite historical fiction reads even before the recent surge of them the past few years – and what i’ve particularly loved about the last four i’ve read are how they present this familiar period of history to me through unique perspectives.
this one is unique for several reasons:
1. i don’t know much about the polish resistance in comparison to those in other countries. my knowledge is limited to having learned about the warsaw ghetto uprising in my university class on the holocaust and later reading mila 18 by leon uris.
2. this is one of the few if only books i’ve read where the jewish main character is also german. in most WWII books i’ve read, the germans portrayed there are nazis or the wehrmacht (army).
3. i had no idea there was a program created for german orphans to be adopted by south african families and am curious to know more information about why this began and how it operated.
i also really loved the characters and the story as a whole.
what i didn’t like: i don’t know if this was joubert’s writing or the translation, but the language was clunky. initially i thought it was because gretl is six when the story begins and it was reflecting how she was thinking, but it stayed that way through jakób’s chapters and as gretl grew up. it was more annoying that distracting but didn’t deter me from finishing the book or loving the story.
final thoughts: such a good read! if you enjoy historical fiction or books that explore identity, i think you’ll enjoy this one.