A lie is the only thing that can get 20-year-old Harry Himelbaum past the cold scrutiny of Ellis Island's immigration official, Will Brown. A lie that locks them in a deadly battle.
It is 1929. At home, economic depression and dust storms ravage America, and abroad the goose step of Nazism is intensifying. Widespread fear of the "other" has reached a fever pitch. Against this tumultuous backdrop, two families share the spotlight in this sweeping saga: the Himelbaums of Poland and the Browns of Iowa. All Harry Himelbaum wants is to live somewhere happy and to send for the wife and child he must deny having. But Will Brown stands in the way. Will is a young, zealously patriotic Iowa lawyer who has dedicated himself staunchly to upholding the nation's laws and keeping his America pure. Little does he expect that his childhood sweetheart and new wife, Barbara, would form a romantic attachment with Harry, the man he's sworn to keep out.
Based on the true story of the author's father, this heart-wrenching clash of love and loyalties is a picture of an America torn between being a symbol of hope for immigrants and a proud nation fighting to re-create itself.
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Quite high. It carries the reader through 15 years of two men, loosely intertwined; one man defending his country against an influx of immigrants, and another man forced to lie about his unexpected family circumstances to gain entry to the USA. Characters are all complex, with intricate motivations for their decisions.
Ochlan's narration takes a bit of getting used to, but he embodies his characters, male and female, Polish and American.
There are many. This book is filled with moments of hope, of despair, of longing and disgrace.
I loved this book! The prologue seems quite unnecessary to the story itself, but I found myself glued to its audio pages, knowing what history would hold for both the USA in the 30s and Poland in the late 30s and early 40s. Loved it!