War has a way of changing things. During World War II in Europe, the change to Europe’s Jewish population was more than war. It was extermination and many were looking for a way out.
The 2017 novel, The German Girl: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa, is initially set in 1939 Germany. Up until this point, young Hannah Rosenthal has led a very happy life. But the war and the noose that is quickly tightening around Germany’s Jews is changing all of that, and not for the better.
In spite of the darkness around them, there is glimmer of light in the distance: the S.S. St. Louis. The ship promises to take her passengers to the freedom and safety of Cuba. But hope soon turns to tragedy when the passengers learn that their new country is not as welcoming as they thought it would be.
In 2014, Anna is a young lady living in New York City with her mother. Her father is dead, she knows next to nothing of him or his family. Then she receives an envelope from a great-aunt Hannah from Cuba whom she has never met. Inside the envelope is a picture of a young girl who looks like Anna. This envelope leads Anna and her mother to take a trip to Cuba to meet her great-aunt and find out the generations old secrets of her late father and his family.
Though the beginning of this book is a little slow, when it picks up, it really picks up. One of the hardest things that a writer can do is write in two different time periods with two different characters while slowly weaving them together until they create one narrative. Mr. Correa not only succeeds at this, but tells a timeless tale of family, love and the destruction that is caused by hate.
I recommend it.