Sunday, August 16, 2009
Those Who Save Us
After all the fluff I've been reading, I went with two meatier books this weekend. The first is Those Who Save Us, which I started a few days okay but was having trouble getting in to. It's not really one of those books you can pick up and read a chapter and then make dinner and read another chapter while thinking about what all you have to do tomorrow. But I focused on it yesterday and it was wonderful. It was hard to read though. Not hard to read in the Shakespeare sense, but just because the content was very heavy. It's about a German woman during World War II who falls in love with a Jewish man, and about their daughter who grew up in America and has the mistaken impression that her real father was a Nazi officer. It's told through both women's perspective's, going back and forth in time. The daughter starts remembering some of thing things that happened when they were in Germany, but doesn't realize they are actual memories, and it's interesting to see her blurry memories juxtaposed with her mom's story that's being told as it happens. All of the mom's story is difficult to read, the loss of her love, living in true poverty, constant terror, making choices that you wouldn't normally do, but that you do because it's the only way to save your daughter. And the daughter's story is difficult too, because she's carried this guilt about who she thinks is her father, and she's not sure what her mother's thoughts on the war and the situation were because she won't talk about it. The whole story is hard because it makes you see these horrible things that happened, but they are horrible things that are more within our realm of imagination. It's difficult to read about concentration camps, but I think to some extent they are so hard for us to picture that our minds can't quite grasp the full horror, and we think nothing like that can happen again. The horrors that the mom goes through hit a little closer to home. It's easier to picture the things that happened to her happening to you than being sent to a concentration camp. Getting through the difficult parts was worth it though. It was a great story with very real characters, and it makes you think about how insignificant your problems are in comparison, which is always a good thing.