Author: Gill James
Date Published: April 7th of 2014
Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing
Synopsis (via the book’s GoodReads page here):
Renate Edler loves to visit her grandmother in the house on Schellberg Street. She often meets up with her friend Hani Gödde who lives nearby. This year, though, it is not to be. Renate finds out a terrible secret about her family. She has to leave behind her home and her friends and become somebody she never thought she could be. The house on Schellberg Street needs to stay strong.
Will it and those who work in it be strong enough? Will Renate ever feel at home again? And what of those left behind?
Rate: 3 of 5
My heart skipped a beat and I was excited that this is historical fiction. I am a lover of historical fiction through and through. Actually, this book is partly fictional and partly not. It wasn’t up until the end that I realized that this was based on the real house on Schellberg Street. That’s right, there really is a thing like that. And some of the characters are actually real.
I absolutely delight on novels that touch the times past. Amongst my favorites of this kind is Memoirs of a Geisha and a Ben Singkol. (Oh, how I love F. Sionil Jose’s novels!) As with any book that I read, of course, I had high hopes for this one! Especially because it’s a genre which I actually enjoy. The last time I read something about the World War II era that’s based in Europe was when I was in highschool (Yikes, was it that long since?) It was The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
Reading even the first chapter of this book made me feel dreadful already. You can just the feel the horrible things that’s gonna happen. Like when you are watching a movie and you know something’s gonna happen so you don’t want to look but at the same time you also want to know what happens next. That’s what I felt. I must say, I was a little tense while reading this one.
I both hated and loved the fact that in the beginning almost every new chapter brought about new characters. At some point I was actually kind of confused. It hadn’t been until the close to the end until it had been made quite clear the connections on the characters.
But, I must say that it is quite fascinating to finally read a book on WWII in the perspective of the Germans. Albeit they are young girls at the time, but Germans nonetheless. It makes you realize that not everyone is bad in this world.
One of my greatest qualms on the book is how I didn’t feel the sense of an ending. I didn’t feel the closure in there and it sort of left me hanging. The story is great, it’s interesting in it’s own right. But the ending felt too hurried. (Some people just need closure…#hugot)
All the elements that would have made me really like this book were present: it was in the perspective of adolescent children and war era. It’s not exactly a “meh” read, but not something I would be eager to pick up and read all over again any time soon.
Do I recommend it? Yes. It’s a fairly good read so, yes.
*Thanks to NetGalley for giving me access to the book in exchange for an honest review.