Friday, March 30, 2012

Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us

I have a small collection of both fiction and non-fiction books centered during World War II and its aftermath, specifically of the Holocaust.  All these are usually focused on Jewish protagonists and how they were able to survive the nightmares of war. 

So when I saw Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us, I figured it was about time to read about the "other side."

Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us

Those Who Save Us tells the story of Anna Schlemmer and her daughter, Trudy.

Mother and daughter have an uneasy, uncomfortable arrangement with Anna tight lipped about her past life in Germany, of which Trudy is dying to know about since she spent her early childhood years there.  All the daughter has as to clues of their past lives is a photograph of her and her mother with a Nazi officer, obviously a family portrait.  This leads Trudy to believe that she might be the daughter of a murderer.

Because of these unanswered questions and her guilt over having a card carrying, and highly decorated officer at that, Nazi for a father, Trudy eventually growns up to become a college professor specializing in German history as she tries to find the answers to what she perceives as her shameful Nazi past.

The novel is told in 2 perspectives, mother and daughter retelling their tales so that readers would better understand their predicaments and past ghosts.  The good thing about this novel is that it doesn't leave readers hanging in the end (I'm such a sucker for resolved issues.)

I do, however, have a few concerns with the novel. 

1. Anna, at the later chapters of the book, encounters a number of problems with her then American husband (a soldier whom she marries near the end of the book), which in my opinion, could easily have been addressed by her just being more open about her past.  Seems she has problems coming to terms to what has happened to her in Germany.

2. Considering this book was a New York Times bestseller, I was expecting it to have been better edited.  Take for instance, conversations in written form are usually enclosed in quotations ('' '') of which this book is sadly lacking in.  There were a lot of chapters that left me confused and rereading the whole thing again just so I could follow the story.

3. I adore a good love story as much as the next person, but I hate it when authors just seem to include this in their novels regardless of whether or not it's called for and still follows through with the tale.  It might just be me but I simply did not get the love story written for Trudy.  It seemed like it was just written to lure in the romantics to read the novel till the end.

If one disregards the concerns mentioned, Those Who Save Us is a good read that tells the other side of the story, a different perspective to ponder on.


  1. That's a really interesting book. I'd try to look for a copy. :)

  2. Reading your three concerns made think that I will not read this book, or maybe not yet.

    I am also interested with the World Wars. I had read Mila 18, which is a novel about the the Jews in the ghettos of Poland.

    I even read non-fiction publications about the World Wars.

  3. @michymichymoo: I bought mine at Booksale. Not sure if the regular bookstores have this title on hand. =)

    @Ishmael Fischer Ahab: I read non-fiction novels regarding WWII too. Like Elie Wiesel's Night. That was a really good one. But most of the books I have are of the fictional genre. =)


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