I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I wish I wrote this post a while ago while it was still fresh in my mind, but lets see what stuck…
My Synopsis: This story follows a German family and a British family one year post WWII, showing how the war effected each person individually.
Pairs best with: Popcorn. The movie just came out… but of course you have to read the book first!! Nothing pairs better with a movie-book than popcorn.
I’d say this was about 3.5 stars on the 5 star scale – it was pretty entertaining, but more than that it was an interesting time period you don’t hear about often. Germany one year post WWII. It brought up something you don’t think of; the kids who grew up during WWII, didn’t fully understand what was going on, but knew enough to feel the loss of loved ones and their home. Though the story itself wasn’t the most gripping, the setting and time period made up for it. Worth a read!
Extended Review: *SPOILERS AHEAD*
OKAY. Like I said, I have a lot of thoughts. Overall, I liked this book. But there were a lot of things that just didn’t add up or get fully developed. And I think that was my biggest issue – there were so many starts to story lines that didn’t quite make it as far as they needed to go, and it lost a lot of the momentum of the story.
Maybe this was explained and I just missed it, but I was confused at the ages of Edmund and Freda. Yes, Freda was older, but I didn’t think she was that much older. Their plots were so different that their ages seemed exasperated. Edmund was written as a child, while Freda was portrayed as an angsty teen. This confused me throughout the story.
At one point, Edmund is looking through Lewis’s wallet and notices that Lewis has pictures of Rachael and Michel, but not Edmund. When Edmund asks him about it, he gives a reason that Lewis latches on to even though its not the real reason. But we never learn what the real reason is. So I’m not sure what the point of this was?? Or did I miss an explanation elsewhere??
Jumping right to the end of the story – when Lewis’ driver gets shot in the end, I wanted to be heart broken. But I wasn’t. We met him in one scene, and yes the shot was supposed to kill Lewis, but it didn’t have the same gripping effect than if the guy (who’s name I don’t even remember!) had been a main character being killed.
One of the main plots in the story is the relationship between Rachael and Lubert. I get the concept of their affair; we can see the winners and the losers in a war, but at the end of war, everyone has lost something. Everyone deals with grief the same way, and even though they were on opposing sides, they both lost a loved one and had to learn to cope. But the way the first kiss started was just too out of left field. It didn’t make sense to me that Lubert just kissed her out of nowhere to distract her, and thats what led to the affair.
I didn’t follow Otis’s plot line. At the end, it tied in, but I didn’t care about it.
Freda’s plot line was the most interesting to me. Hated her. Full on hated. But it’s such an interesting point that I’ve never thought of. There was a whole generation that grew up in Germany during WWII, didn’t fully understand what was going on, but knew they had lost people they cared about and were angry. Having lost her mom (or thinking she lost her mom), I didn’t blame Freda for being angry. I always think about the adults in WWII/Holocaust books and how they were to blame in some situations, but the kids grew up being fed these ideas. It put a different spin on something I grew up believing.
I loved Lewis. He was almost too perfect, but he gave me hope that theres still good people in the world no matter what garbage is going on. Especially in todays world, it’s a really nice message to get from a book.
I know I just pointed out a lot of negatives, but I’d say all around this story worked because of the unique time and place. It did fall short in a lot of places and could have been much better developed, but the unique idea behind it still makes it an interesting read.
Have you read The Aftermath? What did you think?