Who would've known that some German refugee's fleeing during WWII would have gone to Cuba? I sure didn't. This Historical Fiction book is about a girl, Anna who receives a packed of pictures from her father's aunt Hannah. Without realizing what the connection between the little girl and her great aunt is, she starts looking into the life of a father she never knew.
Anna Rosen's dad disappeared while her mother was pregnant with her. Her mother can't tell her much about him as she hadn't been married to her for very long herself when he disappeared.
Her mother struggles with missing him, raising Anna and moving on with life without her husband.
We meet Hannah Rosenthal first though, the year of her 12th birthday. She lives in the middle of Berlin with her mother and father in an apartment her family owns. She is contemplating killing her parents as a protection of herself: "I was Almost Twelve Years Old when I decided to kill my parents." Her best friend Leo is the only person she knows that views life honestly and openly. She loves her father and puts up with her mother whom she calls, "The Goddess". Her family is wealthy. It is a few weeks after Kristalnatch and the threat from the "Ogres" is more dire than ever. She doesn't look Jewish and while wandering around town gets photographed by a man who puts her on the cover of Das Deutsche Madel. She becomes the image of the perfect German Girl. Ironic as she is Jewish.
I won't give away anymore of the story. You will just have to read it to find out "the rest of the story". I have read many, many books on WWII, the Holocaust and Jewish treatment in Germany, but this book was a new perspective for me. I didn't know that Jewish refugees went anywhere but to the US, Canada or other parts of the European nations. I was drawn in from the first paragraph and couldn't put it down.
All the women involved in this story had their own levels of strength, but I was impressed most of all by Hannah and her desire to honor her parents, Leo and the life she once had. It did hurt my heart that she stuck around Cuba, a place she never thought her family would permanently reside. Living in one country that stifled peoples freedoms and having to leave that birthplace to be forced to live in another stifling country is beyond my comprehension. It also hurts that Canada and the US didn't even attempt to take the St. Louis's passengers into their countries. It is unfathomable to me, that they would rather have these poor people head back to Germany instead of protection them from the horrific situation of concentration camps.
Mr. Correa shows through his novel that he has researched in depth the passengers of the St. Louis and what it was like in Germany and Cuba at the time of the story. I once again felt like I was part of the story. Fantastic read.
|I rate this 5 star for character development, and topic.|