Sammy's Reviews > Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
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's review
May 29, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: a-the-best
Read in January, 2007

This is one of those books that make you go, "Wow." And I did go, "Wow," when I put it down. Blum takes an enormous risk writing from the German perspective of the Holocaust, but it's a much needed risk. It's amazing how people still frown down on all Germans involved in the Holocaust, how persecuted and hated they became once WWII was over.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not defending the actions of the German's who openly participated in this senseless genocide. And there is of course that even if you're not directly involved, not doing anything to stop it still makes you a part of the problem. But this book sheds a tiny light on the German's who stood back and did nothing, or only did a little, or did what they could. It shows us why many people didn't do anything to stop those doing wrong.

The book starts a little slow, and at first I wasn't too partial to the jumping back and forth between Trudy in present day America to Anna back in war torn Germany, but after the first few chapters/sections of it, I grew used to it and actually preferred it. It also took a little getting used to the way dialogue was written out, I haven't read too many books that cut out quotation marks all together. But again, once you get used to it, it takes on a natural flow.

Anna and Trudy are both very different and intriguing characters that really hold the whole story together, especially Anna. We have the privilege of seeing her young life in WWII and then seeing how it affects her as an older woman, allowing us a glimpse of other German's who came out of Germany after the war from a more personal perspective.

When reading this book keep an eye out for the name Pfeffer, it will allow the interesting, I guess you could call it a twist, at the end to be even more "shocking." For me the name sounded familiar, but it was only a name in passing that I will have to probably go back and read again.

One thing that tied me personally to the book was when Anna finally came to America and the sort of treatment she received. On my father's side of the family his own dad's family immigrated to the U.S. circa 1920s. When WWII came around, the family was treated with hate and disdain, even the kids (like my grandfather) who were born in the U.S. I think it was one thing that I appreciated about this book, is that while it's not condoning anything the German's did in the war, it's gently saying that hating all German's is wrong. There are still German's out there racked with guilt even though, as the book tells us, there really wasn't much they could do.

This is a touching novel, that while it does have a positive ending, doesn't turn into a sappy mother-daughter bonding book. It stays true to it's characters and style, and I definitely applaud Blum for taking a bold step and putting this amazing novel out there.
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05/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Eva (new) - added it

Eva Leger Fantastic review! My sister borrowed this and I haven't read it yet but I can't wait after seeing your review and hearing what she had to say. My family is German so I have some ties as well and can't wait to read it now.
Great job though!

Terri Excellent review, could not have said it better!

message 3: by J (new) - rated it 2 stars

J Having studied this time period with interest, I think the author assumes the average German knew much more about what was happening than they actually did.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a good book on this topic. The Lost Life of Eva Braun also gives a good description of the lives of German women during this time period.

For my two cents, the author doesn't give the Germans enough humanity in the story to make it believable. People do horrible things, but to truely understand them you have to ackowledge their environment, motivations, good and bad qualities. The author seemed to be presenting a victim's percpetion with faux-understanding of the other side. Just my two cents, I still reading the book ...

Heartofkenna Great review, the book definitely stayed true to. character, that is the best way to describe it in my opinion.

Anne Fine Very good review!

message 6: by Janet (new)

Janet Cybulski Well written review, except a minor issue. As a career English teacher German's stood out to me. To make plurals just add an s without an apostrophe. Adding an apostrophe makes it possessive...a German owns something. Common error, but correctable. :-)

Misty I agree with the risk on writing from the German perspective and I have been curious since hosting a German Au Pair. When we were discussing WW2, I found her Grandfather fought for the Nazi party, however it was because he had to, not because he wanted to. I believe many German citizens likely did the same, similar to Anna, in order to preserve the safety of themselves and their families.

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