Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
This novel tells two stories side-by-side. One story follows Anna, a German girl -- well, around 18 -- when World War II starts through to it's end. The second story follows Trudy, Anna's daughter, an American college professor in the "present" = 1997. Anna has to deal with the war and it's impacts on her life and family, and Trudy has to deal with her life, the war, her past, and her mother's past.
The review: The story here is very interesting and a different point of view. Generally World War II stories just focus on the Jews and the Holocaust, and (as Trudy the history professor points out) the German citizens are incomprehensible because we just wonder how could they let that happen? How could they stand by and watch?
So the novel has a lot of potential. But I didn't like it, despite the fact that I really wanted to. And there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is it was very graphic. I understand what Blum was doing, but that doesn't interest me. The second reason is that the characters weren't very likable. Without trying to give a major spoiler, Anna does some things during the war that seem heroic or very laudable, but her motives are selfish. Then as the war continues her actions stop being heroic and so she becomes even less likable. In the "present," we are given Trudy as an adult, and because of a lifetime of baggage -- her own and her mother's -- she is a social outcast who doesn't have good relationships with anyone. So I was left not liking her either. And the final reason is the conclusion of the story brought all these different pieces together in a pretty unbelievable way.
Ok, and the final word on the review is it would be a perfectly fine light read kind of book, except the subject matter is so heavy.