Thursday, June 15, 2017

The German Girl

It's funny how co-incidences evolve in my reading order sometimes.  My connection to this was completely random (a friend recommended I read this last March and it took this long to become available at BC Libraries Cooperative).   As a historical novel about escaping Jewish families from Germany, I liked the format of this one.  There was a lot of to-and-fro-ing from one character to another (Anna in the future, Hannah in the past, Anna being a relative of Hannah's), which I felt helped to ground this story and allowed me to see that this was not going to be another book about Jewish peoples suffering but also about surviving.  Of course, the story about the escape from Germany is vitally important, and the fact that the Cuban Government turned them away was also very significant (as well as the American and Canadian governments also rejecting them).  As well as the premise of this book being about survival, it's a commentary on the inability of the Cuban government to produce aid to those in dire need  Coming as I was, from Poet Slave of Cuba to this story, it struck me how conflicted and hypocritical people can be about the suffering of others.

Before I put politics aside I just want to say that this book could not have come at a better time.  I know that opinion  drastically differs about refugees today, and living in Canada I am extremely proud of the Trudeau Government for their stance.  I think this book would be a great way to show people how to see the importance of helping when those that are suffering need shelter.  I can't help but feel that compassion should always come before commerce, and fear.

Historical events and political machinations aside, this story about Hannah, and her survival of not only one regime, but two is powerful.  Her ability to love and to show love (to Anna) even after all she has lived through, and ultimately at the conclusion to have peace and joy was a potent message.  By the the time I reached the end of Hannah's story I was in tears because this novel, even with all of it's ugliness, fear and cruelty, was evocatively and beautifully sad.  

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