Published by Scribner on May 6th 2014
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This is a book that I had to sit and ponder after reading. I liked the book but I did not love it. I gave it three stars for the beautiful writing and for that alone. I liked the intertwining stories of Marie Laurie and Werner and how they come together in the end. I am not saying I liked Werner. But I liked the story and the evolution of the character. I am speaking more to the Author’s gift of writing than to the character. This book is beautifully written and lyrical at times. This book made me wonder what would life have been like for these two had they not been put into the situations they were in. This is a hard one for me. Should we feel sorry for Werner, a member of the Hitler youth? A boy who became a Nazi? Werner loved radios and how they worked. He was a curious boy who wanted a better life. What choice did he have? Did he have a choice? I believe this character’s life was a tragedy. He stood by (his choice) and watched a friend being brutalized in order to survive. But how many people died in the Holocaust due to people not making a choice, people who just wanted to survive. This quote comes to mind: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke) I thought of this quote often while reading the parts on Werner. I did like that Werner did make a choice at then end. He choose to show kindness to Marie Laurie. But just because he showed a kindness does not excuse his actions. I have a Holocaust Survivor in my family. I find it impossible to feel sorry for a Nazi – I don’t care how a person became a Nazi. I know some did not care for the last pages of the book but I think they were important to show that life does go on. People survive and rebuild.