I found myself again transported to the 1940s for most of my June reads. I’m looking forward to different genres in July (including one about potty training. Just kidding…not looking forward to that one).
The Plum Tree // Ellen Marie Wiseman
I’ve read at least 50+ WWII-era novels, and I’m finding myself getting a little snooty about my choices. The ones that move me the most are stories that educate me about a different perspective of the war that I hadn’t previously read. This book fell in the middle of the road for me. The writing was beautiful, but I felt the dialogue to be a little over-dramatized at times to the point that it didn’t seem genuine.
The story is about a young woman who falls in love with a Jew in her German neighborhood at the cusp of WWII. Their relationship is quickly severed when his family is deported. The book follows her ups and downs as the war progresses, constantly worrying about her Jewish boyfriend. There are a few twists, but the read dragged a little bit in the middle for me. It was interesting to read from a German citizen’s perspective, but it wasn’t my favorite WWII novel. 3/5
Pachinko // Min Jin Lee
I totally judged this book by the cover. Someone in my neighborhood book club chose this book, and I almost didn’t pick it up because I didn’t know what Pachinko was (still don’t completely understand it, actually), and it didn’t sound interesting.
However, this book was one of my favorite reads this year. I couldn’t put it down. The storytelling is incredible. I had never read much about Japanese/Korean history before, and it was fascinating, heartbreaking, complex to discover.
The novel follows a Korean family from the early 20th century up to the 1980s. The family faces many hardships during Japan’s colonization to WWII to their own personal battles. Highly recommend 5/5.
The Aftermath // Rhidian Brook
I mentioned earlier in this post about needing to be “wowed” by different WWII-era perspectives. This book completed that task. There is one other book that I’ve read that covers the aftermath of WWII in Germany (The Women In The Castle), but this one was completely different.
The story follows a British family that moves to Germany to help in the transition period immediately following WWII. They move into a mansion and allow the homeowners to stay (many Nazi-sympathizers were forced to abandon their homes for soldiers). It’s an interesting story, exploring the mess the war left behind. Food shortages, the hunt for Nazis, cleaning up rubble, burying the dead, tending to orphans are written around the relationships that transpire from the interesting living situation. It was a depressing novel, but I enjoyed the read. 4/5.
At The Wolf’s Table // Rosella Postorino
This was another perspective of WWII that I hadn’t researched or read much about. Postorino attempts to share what it was like to be Hitler’s food tasters. The women are chosen and are at times treated like prisoners. Relationships and loyalties are tested. The writing was eloquent but sometimes took off in directions that left me lost. The story seemed a bit rambling, and the end felt rushed.
Overall, it was an interesting story, but I felt it could have been organized a bit better. 3/5.