Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko
Book Description: (From back of book)
Increasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany—in the summer of 1939—will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.
Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.
Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young—a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally—who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives—and asking others to do the same—for those they barely know but come to love.
There are times you read a historical fiction book from this time period and you finish it and even though the main characters ended up happy, you feel the weight of what happened settling in on your shoulders. While Ms. Gohlke addresses really tough issues in this book, I did not end it feeling depressed. I felt like I had more of an idea about the very brave people that faced an enemy during a very dangerous time for those that were handicapped, too perfect, came from “flawed” parents, or were of the “wrong race”. The history that was involved in including Bonhoffer was very good. This would be really good to show a more mild way of some of the ways young people and older people were involved in saving others during this time. I was thinking as I see all the time how our World War veterans are passing away, our Holocaust survivors are leaving this earth and I realized if we do not teach our children how real and horrible the events of World War two were, we will have grandchildren that do not understand why it is even important to know about it. This book would be excellent for a teen in high school to read as part of their high school historical fiction and literature. While it speaks on the eugenics that were used, it does not go into the gruesome details in a way that would be graphic for a teen or sensitive reader. It is just enough to give you the picture, horrify you, but not scar you. I found I would have found the twists in the story almost odd, had I not read other books on eugenics in Hitler’s Germany and realized that she barely scratched the surface, but gave enough for you.
Just as she did with her other historical fiction, Ms. Gohlke hits the nail on the head and knocks this down in one blow. I hope it will speak to you as it did me.