I'm freezing! Brrr. I feel bound and determined NOT to turn on the heat in September, however at the moment my bedroom is a brisk 62 degrees. We'll have to see how I feel when I arrive home from work at midnight.
My bookclub has had its fair share of duds this year. At our next meeting we'll be discussing Jenna Blum's Those Who Save Us. Here was something I could finally sink my teeth into.
Those Who Save Us is the story of Trudy and Anna. Anna is Trudy's mother, a German immigrant who was never really accepted in the small town of Minnesota where she lived. Trudy is her daughter, a professor of German studies, who has lived her life wondering why her mother won't talk to her about her father and her past. Thanks to a photograph she found with her mother's things, Trudy believes she is the child of a Nazi officer.
Told in alternating story lines, we learn Anna's past and Trudy's present. I think I enjoyed Anna's storyline more, desperate as it was. Anna's story feels unexpected and it is no wonder that she has chosen to remain silent. Though free during WW2, she suffered and paid a price for survival. Trudy embarks on a video project with a colleague who is recording stories of Jewish survivors. Trudy in turn begins recording stories of Germans who lived through the war. The tales she hears vacillate from greatly disturbing to life affirming. The ending comes as a bit of a shock, we know that Trudy will eventually discover what her mother went through, and the end is positively gripping as things are revealed.
As I mentioned above, this story takes place in Minnesota. When I read a book set in a place where I live or have lived, I never fail to wonder if because I am familiar with the place, the details of place stand out so much to me. I cannot tell from Blum's biography if she has ever lived here, but I can tell you that she has the details spot-on. When she writes about the cold, and how it seems your lungs are going to shatter when you breath in, well, I know she knows how cold it really is here.
This was an absorbing read for me and one of the highlights of our bookclub in 2009. I can't wait to hear what everyone else thought.