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This autobiographical novel operates on several levels: a holocaust memoir a thrilling adventure, and a family drama.
Driven from Nazi Germany to Kenya, the family must adjust, with varying levels of success, to life in a completely foreign land. They were glad to be safe from the Nazis, but now had to contend with the racism and anti-semitism of their host nation, and the English colonizers, and also the guilt and worry of what was happening in Europe.
Family dynamics, and the horror and confusion of displacement, are at the heart of this audiobook. The father's haunting guilt, the mother's resistance to change, daughter Regina's embrace of her new land. Africa, from the viewpoint of Regina, seems almost magical and full of possibility, but also completely destabilizing.
Narrator, Max Roll has a wide variety of accents and personalities to contend with, and he does a superb job of making each voice distinct and alive. He brings pathos to the reading that adds tremendously to the story.
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I've been concentrating on listening to WW II books as I wanted to learn more about that time in history, especially how the Nazis treated people in the various countries like France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia etc. I had not read any books that dealt with German Jews fleeing Germany into Africa, so this was new for me. The history of Jews living and trying to leave Germany and the hardships and atrocities they encounter are pretty well documented in other books, and this one does spend some time on that process, but once the family arrives in Africa, wow!
Ms. Zweig does a fantastic job writing about the lives and hardships of those who have had to leave their country, but she does an amazing job of writing about the relationships that develop between the fleeing Jews and the local tribes people of Kenya.The descriptions remind me a bit of "the Power of One", written by Bryce Courtenay, who was born in Africa and had to leave his country because of apartheid problems there. He met and married an Australian woman and lived and wrote in Australia until his death recently.
Anyway, Ms. Zweig has caught the rhythm, melody and unique way of thinking of the local people. I loved the blend of each, European and African, as they viewed a problem or situation that needed some solution. The daughter, who is very young when she arrives in Africa, is caught between two worlds, her parents' and her adopted Africa's. She becomes a rather split personality, when it comes to her thinking processes.
This is an historical novel, set in Germany and Africa but it's timber and tone is so different from many of the offerings you will come across. If you are looking for a book that gives information about WWII but is not the run of the mill account then this book is for you.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful