Katie's Reviews > Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
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bookshelves: kindle-prime, fiction, history

Trudy (or Trudie, as her name is spelled in chapters depicting her childhood) is an American historian and professor who was born in Germany during World War II to Anna, a strikingly beautiful twenty-year-old German civilian who turns into a reticent, conflicted, silent woman after the war. Anna never tells Trudy about her childhood -- Anna will not speak of her role in the war, the morality she may or may not have adopted to survive or help others survive, or Trudy's father. As a result, Trudy seems to offset her assumed secondhand shame and overall lack of knowledge by an almost guilty interest in the role of German women during the war.

To that end, Trudy undertakes a research project in the mid-90s to interview German Americans in the Midwest who lived in Germany during World War II. Her motivation is personal to the point of compromising her professionalism, and her experiences with the project affect her in such deeply personal ways that her judgment and emotions are endlessly compromised, which is simultaneously understandable and exasperating. The author skillfully flips the story back and forth to very neatly parallel the similarities between Anna's life during the war and Trudy's emotional conflict brought on by her project, which brings the estranged mother and daughter closer despite their lack of communication. I would have liked to see fewer German stereotypes and a less mercurial, more professional main character, but the book is quite well done.

A small detail: There are no quotation marks used for dialogue, which in my mind caused every conversation to be filtered through an impression of imprecise, indirect recall. This style was distracting but eventually appropriate and effective for chapters from the war, but didn't work as well for modern sections.
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Reading Progress

November 6, 2012 – Started Reading
November 6, 2012 – Shelved
November 12, 2012 – Shelved as: kindle-prime
November 12, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction
November 12, 2012 – Shelved as: history
November 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

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