Friday, April 5, 2013

Staff Picks

April is National Holocaust Month and like other history months, it should be remembered as a warning for the future. Here are some wonderful works of fiction I’ve read recently on this most important and difficult subject.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Many are calling The Storyteller Picoult’s best book yet, and that is high praise for this beloved author. Picoult puts a human face on the Holocaust in this novel which centers around the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. Sage Singer, a young baker and a loner, has a past she wants to hide behind. One day, she befriends a beloved elderly man she recognizes from her grief counseling group. Josef Weber confesses an evil secret to her, one he’s hidden for sixty years, even from his own wife. Weber asks Sage for an impossible favor and while Sage struggles morally with this difficult request, the novel delves into the past from Sage’s Polish grandmother, Minka’s, point of view. Magnificently intertwined stories are laced together, past and present, to give the reader a most thought-provoking, gripping, and sorrowful look at a difficult subject. This is one of those books you can’t put down, but when you finally do, you still have it in your head and heart for days to come.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

This dark fable is told through the eyes of naive and innocent Bruno, the 9-year-old son of the commandant at Auschwitz, an innocent boy who has no real understanding of what’s going on around him. After his move from Berlin to Auschwitz (a place Bruno calls “Out-With”), he befriends Schmuel, a boy on the other side of the fence who wears “striped pajamas”. It's an incredible story that leaves you thinking about the ugliness of the Holocaust, the prejudice, and the nature of man.

City of Women by David Gillem

David Gillham, author and screenwriter, depicts a vividly cinematic recreation of 1943 Berlin to perfection. Though City of Women is more about World War II in general it also explores what happens when ordinary people are thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.

 It is 1943 and the Second World War is in full force. With nearly all the men off to war, Berlin has become a city of women. Sigrid Schröder is a German soldier’s wife, struggling to get by on a daily basis while her husband, Kaspar, is off fighting the war. Faced with a lackluster marriage, caring for her meddling, unpleasant mother-in-law, and working every day to get by, Sigrid begins to question her tedious daily existence. And she also has a secret. She dreams of her former lover, who is a Jew.

Gilham masterfully weaves haunting and sensual story-telling with gripping suspense in this award winning debut novel.
Beth Moore
Information Specialist