Title: Those Who Save Us
Author: Jenna Blum
Date Read: 5 October 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
In the fifty years since the end of the war, Anna Schlemmer refused to talk about her life in Germany. When an American soldier liberated her and her three year old daughter and took them back to America with him, she convinced herself that the past was dead and not worth remembering. Fifty years later, her daughter Trudy teaches German history at the local university. The only thing she has of their past is a picture of a strange Nazi solider. When she begins a project interviewing people about their life in Germany during the war, Trudy uncovers the truth of her mother’s past that she never even imagined was possible.
I picked up Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum because it spoke to my interest of the whole World War II era. Little did I know that I would devour this book in four days. This book is unusual because it doesn’t focus directly on the Holocaust and the plight of its victims. Instead, it focuses on the daily life of one woman and the choices she makes in order to survive.
We also see the consequences of these choices with Anna’s daughter Trudy in her determination to understand why someone would accept evil choices. Through this we realize that our choices aren’t exactly black and white. Even in the face of something as defining as the Holocaust, people had to make certain choices in order to survive, even if they’re considered terrible by the general public. Good people can make good and bad choices, sometimes simultaneously and this is what Anna did.
I wish that Trudy realized who her father was. We, as the reader know who he was fairly early on, but it was never discussed after that. When Trudy asks if a certain person is her real father, Anna never corrects her and this kind of baffles me.
Overall I think this book is a good addition to any World War II canon and a necessary insight to how people lived on a daily basis.