The Border of Truth: A Novel
by Victoria Redel (Goodreads Author)
During the 1940s A Seventeen-Year-old European Jewish refugee aboard a ship being returned to Nazi-occupied Brussels, after having been denied American port, writes a series of letters to Eleanor Roosevelt. He beseeches her intervention and tells his own story (the girls he's kissed, the movies he's seen). The minutiae of this young boy's life mix with the mortal realities...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 13th 2007 by Counterpoint
(first published 2007)
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Unlike Victoria's previous novel, Loverboy, which is like a small bomb detonating, The Border of Truth is vast and meandering ... a little too vast and meandering. Surviving the Holocaust, adoption, the relationship between a daughter and her emotionally distant father -- all interesting in their own right, but together these strands become diluted.
I found the story about the Quanza and its passengers fascinating but I wish there had been more of an explanation from the father as to why he kept his past from his daughter. We only have the daughter's suppositions and that left a lot of unanswered questions.
After the recent death of her mother and failed romantic relationships, Sara is ready to adopt a baby. When she begins filling out paperwork about her parents and grandparents, she realizes that her father has never shared his past with her. When she begins to investigate, she discovers that her father was abroad the ship Quanza, a boat full of refugees fleeing the onset of the Holocaust. The novel switches point of view from Sara's current-day New York City living prying her dad for information...more
When I first got this book I was pretty excited. My library's blub sounded quite interesting. The first hundred pages proved that it was much different than what I had expected and hoped for, but I still enjoyed it. However, after the first hundred pages, it was like pulling teeth for me to read any pages. I just couldn't finish it and didn't enjoy it enough to re-check it out. Sure I'm curious about part of the ending, but the switching back and forth between the Holocaust story and the adoptio...more
Written in "letter" format, Itzak writes a series of pleas to Eleanor Roosevelt to intervene, filling his letters with colorful rumors about fellow passengers, endearing details about the movies he loves and his adolescent crushes, as well as harrowing tales about his family's flight from the Nazis.He is being held aboard a ship and waiting for approval to enter the US
The story of a translator working with the letters of Walter Benjamin is intersected with the wartime letters of her father (to Eleanor Roosevelt), who was trapped on a boat from Europe trying to gain entry to the US in 1940. As the translator tries to investigates her father's story, the reasons for his reluctance to reveal his past become clear. Most of this book was pretty good, though various subplots felt slightly shoehorned and there were plenty of deus ex machina moments. Anyway, B/B+.
Fact and fiction intertwined, this book makes educational yet gripping reading. A lot was left unexplained, but I assume this was because of the need to protect the real (and in some cases, living) characters in the whole sorry event. A story of hope, highly recommended.
This story kept my attention but I much preferred the contemporary strand with Sara the translator and her carpenter love interest. I didn't buy the WWII era letters to Eleanor Roosevelt. The author's teenage boy voice didn't ring true. The letters were too cute.
Victoria Redel was born in New York a first generation American of Belgian, Rumanian, Egyptian and Russian parentage. Redel is the author of two books of poetry and three books of fiction. Her latest novel The Border of Truth (Counterpoint 2007) weaves the situation of refugees and a daughter’s awakening to the history and secrets of her father’s survival and loss. It was selected as a Barnes and...moreMore about Victoria Redel...
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“Sometimes I think we need to tell our stories more than anyone needs to hear our stories. Maybe just so that anticipation or happiness can be reached for again. But other times it is almost as if the story itself wants repeating. So that the strand of hair caught in a kiss or the turn of a beautiful face isn't lost forever. So that, especially when it comes to beauty, we're not alone and left with the burden of remembering.”More quotes…