Monday, March 8, 2010

Bittersweet Books

WWII and Hitler’s hatred have always held a sense of fascination for me. The annihilation of one people group due to one man’s persuasive cunning and revulsion is incredible and frightening. Recently three very different books related to WWII fell across my lap. I’d like to share them with you in case you are as horribly mesmerized as I am and would like to do a little reading of your own.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay – My best friend’s mom lent me this book, and I’m thankful she did. The author did a fabulous job of interweaving the past with the present while making history come to life. The book is heart-wrenching and difficult to read, but I couldn’t put it down. I cried -- often. It’s a fictional account that rings too true, and tells of what happened to the many Jews living in France during the Nazi occupation, but it zooms in on Sarah’s story to capture the fear, devastation and strength of a persecuted people. Haunting. (Some brief language)

Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer – This is a fascinatng true story. The author combines the stories of a young German Jew, Helen Waterford, and an ardent member of the Hitler Youth, Alfons Heck. They were born within miles of each other and obviously had dramatically different accounts of the war. Both stories were captivating, but I think I was most interested to gain some understanding about how anyone could support a madman. It was frightening to learn how truly inspiring Hitler was to the people he led, and how blindly so many followed either out of fear or actual devotion. He brainwashed the youth of his country, and I’ve come to understand that many of them were actually victims of another sort. Really riveting.

The Journey that Saved Curious George by Louise Borden – A book for the kids too. We are huge fans of a certain curious little monkey, so when I saw this picture book, I decided it would be a good purchase. I was right. We are currently studying WWII, and I gave the book to my boys to read individually after I had read it first. This true story tells about the authors of Curious George, the Reys, German Jews living in France. It gives a brief background of their life overall, then relates the dramatic change that took place when the Germans were marching closer to Paris. The picture book, with rich illustrations and photographs of the Reys and their artifacts, is appealing to adults and children alike and gives lovers of Curious George a personal interest in a different side of WWII. After all, where would we be without all those wonderful books that give such amusing and endearing descriptions like that of our own curious little monkeys?

Journey through these books to unlock a past we need to remember.
Happy, and not so happy, reading to you.



MamaMonki said...

I'm going to have to go looking for the Curious George book. I'm a big fan of that little guy. I've also always had a fascination/ interest with that time in history. I wrote my junior term paper on children in the camps. Many of the things I read and researched broke my heart, but I especially remember there was a poem about a butterfly written by a child in a concentration camp that just really touched me. I'll have to see if I can find that poem.

Mama's said...

I too am fascinated about this stuff. I can't imagine living through those times when all of that stuff under Hitler happened.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas was a powerful movie and so sad.

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