Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Holocaust Stories

Many years ago I decided that I wasn't interested in reading Holocaust stories.  I felt like they were often similar and just had read so many of them.  So I stopped reading them for a while, and then all of a sudden, they were appealing to me again.  

This past week I read two Holocaust stories back to back, which may have been a bit too much all at once, but both were interesting and sad and will stay with me.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult is written in Picoult's typical style with different characters taking turns narrating the story. Sage, a baker, is asked by an elderly gentleman at a grief support group for help in killing himself.  He tells her he had been an SS officer during World War II and as she uncovers more of his past, turns him in to the division of government in charge of punishing war crimes.  Sage's grandmother had been in a concentration camp and she narrates much of the middle portion of the book, telling the story of her time in Germany during the war.  Typical Picoult, there is a twist at the end. I wasn't horribly surprised by the ending, and I enjoyed Sage's character a great deal.  

Karolina's Twins by Ronald Balson is another Holocaust novel I just finished up. Lena approaches a husband/wife investigator/lawyer team asking them to help her find her best friend's infant twins who were abandoned during World War II. Now seventy years later she has found the courage to try to locate them.  Her son Arthur stands in the way of his mother's search, trying to find her mentally diminished because of age, not believing the twins ever existed. The entire book is comprised mainly of Lena's story, as she recounts her family being taken away by soldiers, and the various places where she found shelter and was relocated.  
There are a few weak areas of this book. Arthur, Lena's son, is a poorly developed character and seems one dimensional. The conversations he is a part of were hard to believe.  However, despite this, I did enjoy this story.  I knew early on how this would end, and despite being a bit discouraged by it's predictability, I couldn't find a better way for Balson to wrap this one up.  
Karolina's Twins is enjoyable and fast, and readers who enjoy World War II stories won't be disappointed.

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