The Girl from Krakow by Alex Rosenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a compelling and engaging book in many ways. The characters where unique—not cutouts or clichés. The story evocated many different emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, excitement, and even to a degree joy (or maybe relief is better). The look at the life in Poland, Moscow, and Germany during the war through the eyes of Jews hiding out in the open offered a different perspective on WWII.
Nevertheless, there is some aspect, some element that I didn’t like. Unfortunately, I can’t quite pin down what that is; I think, though, it has to with the integrity of the story telling. That is, there were elements of the story that the author focused on which ultimately didn’t really matter to the story. The best example of this are the sex scenes. The author got quite detailed in describing these. That in itself didn’t bother me, but it didn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the style of the book. I kept thinking there would be some reason later in the book for this detail—that it would have an impact or importance later. But it never did. There were other examples of this sort of structure as well that undermined my overall take on the book.
There was also something about the two main characters that struck a flat note. There was at times something psychologically unreal about them.
I am not sure I can quite recommend the book; though I think it touches on important questions. In particular, the question that survivors of any tragedy face: why did I survive? It’s not a bad book; but it could have much better.
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