I recently learned about Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (I can't remember how – Page-A-Day Calendar? a blog?) and I am surprised I hadn't heard of it before. Sounds like it's a pretty well-known book, and it has gotten great reviews.

From Amazon (and Booklist):

Blum Family secrets of Nazi Germany are at the core of this powerful first novel told in two narratives that alternate between New Heidelberg, Minnesota, in the present, and the small town of Weimar near Buchenwald during World War II. Trudy is a professor of German history in Minnesota, where she's teaching a seminar on women's roles in Nazi Germany and conducting interviews with Germans about how they're dealing with what they did during the war. But her mother, Anna, won't talk about it, not even to her own daughter. Trudy knows, she remembers, that Anna was mistress to a big Nazi camp officer. Why did she do it? Was he Trudy's father? The interviews are a plot contrivance to introduce a range of attitudes, from blatant racism to crippling survivor guilt. But the characters, then and now, are drawn with rare complexity, including a brave, gloomy, unlucky rescuer and a wheeler-dealer survivor. Anna's story is a gripping mystery in a page-turner that raises universal questions of shame, guilt, and personal responsibility.

The Wrinkled Page blog says, "The story was riveting, at turns touching and beautiful and horrifying. It is the story of what people do to survive, what they come to feel for those who save them, and how they come to terms with the after-effects of their decisions."

Such a Pretty Face blog says she "read this 479 page book in 2 days."

Murphy's Law blog has an interview with Jenna Blum here.

This sounds like a book worth reading. EDIWTB readers – can anyone weigh in?


  • August 17, 2008 - 2:54 am | Permalink

    I read this book a couple of years ago. I don’t remember the whole book. But I remember thinking that the story seemed so real. It was a hard book to take at times. The author at that time did talk to us via phone. But she is no longer doing this. I do remember that I was absorbed in this book.
    I hope this helps.

  • rissa winkelman
    August 17, 2008 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    i read it a while ago. It was a good read.

  • Kiki
    August 18, 2008 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Better than good–this is an amazing book! I read it recently (3-4 months ago), and I was completely knocked out by it! I read a lot of WW2/Holocaust literature–this was by far some of the better fiction in that genre I’ve ever read. Explores the complex relationships between mother and daughter, husband and wife, victim and persecutor and ultimately the relationship between the rescuer and the rescued. Utterly heartbreaking and very realistically written.
    I highly recommend this book, Gayle!

  • August 20, 2008 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    This sounds very good, thanks for mentioning it.

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