Friday, April 17, 2009

Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum

Blum's writing style threw me at first. I'm not used to reading novels in the present tense, especially when they are set at definite points in the past. But for a number of reasons, this book gripped me. Half of it is set in Weimar, Germany (which I visited at the end of February with a dear friend, who also loaned me this book) before and during the second World War, and the rest in nineties Minnesota. Being in Germany while reading this book certainly increased, for me, its poignancy. Blum's dual narrative structure is effective, although I thought she often drew connections between the two too close together, rather than trusting the reader's memory or ability to draw the parallels over a greater span of pages. And once I got used to the tense, it gave the book an immediacy that would normally be lost in the past tense. The ending, too, was about as effective as it could have been. Such stories cannot have a happy ending with all the loose ends tied. But that doesn't mean there can be no resolution -- and I was happy with Blum's final pages.

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