Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein

You know how nervous you can get about a book that so high on your wish list that you're afraid it won't meet your soaring expectations? Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein was that book. I still remember scenes from The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Epstein. So, I also knew from that experience that Jennifer Cody Epstein tears your heart into tiny bits and then sets them on fire. Still, I got to Wunderland as quickly as I could because I was so excited about it, even knowing what I was probably getting into.

Wunderland is the story of two German girls, school friends, one of whom becomes a Nazi (a member of the BDM, the girls' version of the Hitler Youth) and the other who finds out she's half Jewish. A contemporary/historical blend, the second storyline is about the daughter of the Nazi, who receives her mother's ashes and a bunch of unsent letters that explain everything her tight-lipped mother would never tell her.

Highly recommended - Perfectly paced, devastatingly realistic, clearly well-researched, and magnificently plotted. The author firmly, painfully plants you in her characters' shoes to tell a bittersweet story about a friendship tested, a mystery revealed, and the horror of war. Wunderland is one of the best books I've read, this year. Not an easy read but one that will make you feel the emotions of the characters, for better or worse.

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  1. You made this sound wonderful. I have put off this topic of late because I went through a period where I just felt like everything was about Nazis but this really does sound great.

    1. There have definitely been an awful lot of WWII releases, in recent years. I'm OK with that because that's my favorite time period to read about (fiction and NF, both) but even I space them out so I don't get sick of them. What's special about Wunderland is that it really places you in their shoes. So, the girl who finds out she's part Jewish . . . you feel her pain and, as the years pass, the growing urgency to escape. At the same time, you gain an understanding of how someone could get swept up in the Nazi mindset, but only to a certain extent, which is obviously good. I read the diary of a woman in Germany during WWII, one year, and I was shocked at how she went on about her life as if the war was just a nuisance that made it hard to find food, not a war in which people were being imprisoned and killed by the millions.


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