by David R Gillham
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Page Count: 400
Release Date: August 7. 2012
Format: Trade Paperback
How got: personal library; bought from local B&N
First attention getter: pretty cover and storyline of regular Germans during WWII
Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?
It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.
But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets. A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit. A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions. And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.
Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.
In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.
Star Rating - 5
My favorite part of this book was how intimate a look we get into the daily lives of the average German during WWII. The reader gets an in-depth look at the long lines for food, the ever-looming threat of the Gestapo and watching what one says, the dank fear of the bomb shelters, and the struggle to keep u hope in such a gray, drudge-filled world. I liked how this book showed that not every German was a hard-toed Nazi; some were just trying to survive in a country gone mad.
I really liked Sigrid’s character. She shows incredible character development and change as the story progressed. Starting out as a simple, pushover of a girl, she blossoms into a strong, courageous, and intelligent woman, facing all the circumstances that come her way with aplomb. I liked that she found herself in staying others and conducting her own form of resistance against the Nazis.
I also have to give a shout-out to the other characters, too. I adored the fact that most of the people portrayed are NOT what they appear to be. Allies are betrayers, neighbors are hidden people, soldiers are purveyors of assistance, and those whom one thought would be the biggest threat actually provide the best of help. The author does a great job in layering his characters to create three-dimensional models in which to explore this world through.
This book deserves all the hype it got. With a great setting, balance portrayal of Germany at war, and intense characters with an intriguing story, this book stands out in the WWII historical fiction genre. I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy the genre. I heartily hope the author writes something else as the world would benefit by more than his pen.