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Those Who Save Us
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February 2016: World War II > Those Who Save Us / Jenna Blum - 4****

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6025 comments Those Who Save Us – Jenna Blum

Dr Trudy Swenson is a professor of history at the Univ of Minnesota. After she goes home for her father’s funeral she begins to question her history, and her mother’s silence. She has always know that Jack wasn’t her real father – that he had married Anna and brought her and her daughter from Weimar Germany to the USA after WW2. But the questions about her past will not be silenced, and a research project to record interviews with German survivors of the war forces Trudy to confront her past.

The novel is told in dual timelines: the adult Trudy in 1990s Minnesota, and her mother, Anna, as a young woman in war-torn Germany (1941-1944). The reader is all too aware of Trudy’s past, while watching Trudy struggle to make sense of her dreams, her vague recollections, and the one clue she has found among her mother’s belongings.

I was not expecting much from this “book-club favorite;” I’ve been disappointed by so many books that were popular with book clubs. But I’m certainly glad I put my pre-conceived notions aside and read it. I found complex issues, well-developed characters, and a compelling narrative.

Are we doomed to love “Those who save us,” despite their otherwise reprehensible behavior? I was nearly as frustrated by Anna’s obstinate silence as Trudy was. Learning her story, what she felt forced to do to save her child (and herself) gave me some understanding into her character, her motives, her fears, and her reluctance to examine the past. However, my sympathies lie more with Trudy, whose life and potential for happiness is so damaged by the secret Anna refuses to reveal. And I am left wondering whether Jack ever made peace with Anna’s past … and if so, how?

Elizabeth (Alaska) I loved this book. As I recall from a GR discussion, others were unhappy with Anna for not discussing the past. I think discussing your past sexual relationships with your children is not going to happen and that it didn't in this case is very understandable - at least to me. Anna's happiness was forever damaged, no matter what she did. Her willingness to do whatever it took to save her daughter, while at the same time risking her life to try to save others makes her one of the greatest heroines I can recall.

message 3: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5071 comments Oh no, another one for the TBR...

message 4: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah | 195 comments Agreed Anna did what she had to survive. I think alot of people just wanted to move on, which I'm sure was difficult for their children.

Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments I rated it 4 stars when I read it in 2014. I read this book as a book written by a "Minnesota author". She lived in Minnesota a short time.

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6025 comments I was talking about this book to my husband and he's decided to read it. After about 80 pages he said, "This is going to be GOOD!" He's been absorbed by it most of the day ....

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments You know I rarely enjoy WWII HF; this is an exception. I really enjoyed this one.

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