Jenna Blum’s first novel, Those Who Save Us, is a powerful story within a story set both in Second World War II Germany, and in modern day Minnesota.
The story is of a German History professor, Trudy, who becomes obsessed with learning the truth of her mother’s experience in Nazi Germany. Anna, Trudy’s mother, won’t talk about her life in Germany and Trudy harbours a misguided belief about who her father is based on one surviving photo from that time; that of Trudy, her mother, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.
Ms. Blum gradually reveals the truth about Anna’s life in Germany. This is a story of a mother’s fierce love and what she will do to protect her daughter, set against the grim reality of the effort needed to survive in a harsh and unforgiving time. It is also a story of the shame that carries people throughout their lives, and how it is so easy to misjudge those around us.
This is one of those books that stays with you. I think about it even weeks after finishing the last page. It is a compelling story, but also has something to teach us as citizens of the world. Although it is definitely not a happy story, the underlying theme of a mother’s love makes you want to continue reading, even through the more difficult passages.
This is a good book club book. A reader’s guide is available at the back of the book, or online.
Until next time,
Luanne’s Guest Blogger,