Aaron Shu Shu từ Talle, South Sinjai, Sinjai Regency, South Sulawesi, Indonesia
I appreciated that this book was sympathetic but realistic about people in poverty. And I remember the desperate need to splurge on something (eating out at a fast food restaurant, renting movies, whatever) for a momentary pick-me-up when you can't afford to fix your washing machine. I recommend this book to pretty much everyone. I certainly know a handful of co-workers who could benefit from holding judgment until they've walked in someone else's shoes. This book details how poverty handicaps virtually every aspect of life, and how hard it is to overcome. Sounds depressing, I know, but worth a read.
** spoiler alert ** Okay, so it should go without saying that I couldn't put it down, right? And despite having it on my bookshelf for a year? Or two? I'm only sorry that I didn't read it sooner. I do find it interesting that I was reading this book at the same time as the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book. Both dealing, of course, with the aftermath of WWII complete with flashbcks, but two very different books, overall. Ah...this story. The Anna of the past was nothing like the Anna of the future. Her story so sad and stressful and horrible. Not only did she do whatever it took to keep her daughter alive (her half-Jewish daughter, an even greater transgression in Nazi Germany), but she aided concentration camp inmates? Victims? as long as she could until she feared for Trudy's life. It begs the question though--so many people feel anger towards the German people for not doing more, but I identified with Anna so strongly. What would I do to save my daughters? Would I continue to deliver the bread? Would I agree to be the mistress of a deplorable man? Would I toe any line I had to, if it meant ensuring their safety? If I knew that, certainly, speaking up or aiding or helping in any way would not only mean MY death, but the death of my child, what would I do? Would I deliver the bread? Or would I take the path Anna did? The story in "Those Who Save Us" is told in "present" time (late '90s Minnesota) with flashbacks to wartime Germany. The story begins with Trudy and Anna and the death of Anna's husband and Trudy's adopted father Jack. Trudy is a historian and teaches German History at a Minnesota University. Her mother, while not cruel, is difficult. She speaks little and Trudy can't wait to escape the house after her stepfather's funeral. Anna is distant. Quiet. She refuses to address the past in any manner at all despite Trudy's pleadings. And then the book begins to tell her story. Anna was a well breed girl from a good, but decaying, family. Her father is a tyrant. When the Jews begin to be removed from Germany and placed into camps, Anna meets a Jewish doctor, Max. She falls in love and when Max is on the lam, having been discovered as a part of the Resistance in his small German town, Anna hides him in the house, a secret from everyone but the baker, Matilda, who is also a member of the Resistance and most importantly, from her Nazi loving father. In time, Max is discovered, but not before Anna is pregnant and while her father threatens an arranged marriage, Anna runs away to the Baker. Her father leaves town and is never mentioned again, really. He's too cruel and Anna cares too little. She has enough to worry about. Not only is she pregnant, but Max has been sent to the concentration camp and Anna is struggling to earn her keep with Matilda, the baker. Things don't get much easier after Trudy is born and one day, the baker is killed delivering bread and weapons to the concentration camp inmates(is that the right word? Victims maybe?) Anna decides to take up the fight and witnesses atrocities before she is visited by Horst, the Obersturmfuhrer, an officer at the camp. He takes a liking to her and though he had the "right" (used loosely) to kill her for abetting Matilda, he takes her under his protection and she becomes his mistress. A truly deplorable task, but done to keep Trudy alive. Anna suffers under the hands of the Obersturmfuhrer and Trudy is given her own fair share of trauma. As the war rages forward and supplies become scarce, it is really only the gifts from the Obersturmfuhrer that keep Anna and Trudy alive. He manages to bring them food and clothing, and even though they're mostly starving, they're surviving better than the other citizens in their German town. As the war is ending, the Obersturmfuhrer offers to take Anna to Argentina, but only if she leaves Trudy behind. Anna refuses, opting to take her chances with the Americans which is where she meets her husband, Jack. He saves her from being raped and is kind to her after she is pressed into service by the American army and forced to bury the concentration camp dead (along with everyone else in town. She's not singled out). Anna and Trudy go with Jack to America, but Anna never fits in and her refusal and inability to explain her past to him (he knows she was the mistress of a Nazi) damages their relationship. Trudy discovers Anna's past by accident as she works on a sister project to The Remember Project (the documenting of the story of holocaust survivors). Trudy seeks to record the stories of Germans living in Germany at the same time. She interviews some monsters, falls in love with a holocaust survivor and finally is told her mother's stories from the perspective of a German trapped in the camps. Anna refuses to talk about any of it and Trudy finally realizes that heroes don't have to tell their own stories. If they don't want to.
First in a series about a girl who meets up with her mom, a cop shot in the line of duty. Yeah, she's a ghost. Mom ghost must save the rhinos in a zoo from a dastardly plot and needs her daughter's help. It was too slow for my taste.