Yet another WWII book, nobody who follows me is surprised. But let’s be real I’m not going to stop, so let’s get into my review.
I listened to this book, as an audiobook, thanks to my libraries online app. Although this let me read the book when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to due to time constraints, I feel like it also distanced me from the characters and what happens to them. This could be Monica Hesse’s writing style, but it seems to happen more frequently to me with audiobooks so I’ll have to read a physical copy of this book in order to find out. This distancing meant that I wasn’t massively impacted by the events as they happen to the characters, however, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I gave it 4/5*s! I just didn’t cry at any of the plot twists, which is why it didn’t hit the 5* mark.
We follow Hanneke as she is working within the black market during WWII in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We see her making deliveries during the day, hiding what she does from her parents at night, and morning her boyfriend Bass in every moment as he was killed on the Dutch front lines. During a standard delivery, one of the women wants help from Hanneke, it turns out that she wants her to try and find a Jewish teenager that she was hiding in a secret room. She has vanished and the woman is incredibly concerned for her safety. Eventually Hanneke is convinced into helping find her, and the web of the Dutch resistance closes in around her and opens her eyes to the horrors of the Nazis.
I really enjoyed watching the various characters develop, come to trust each other and work to help those worse off than them. This is also, unless I am remembering incorrectly, the first WWII book I have read which was set in the Netherlands and followed Dutch characters. It was very interesting to me to see how this country was impacted by the Nazis regime and how the Dutch people resisted in little and large ways.
This is a beautifully written book and personally I think it is a very important topic. Books set in WWII, in all different areas, all have something that can be taken away from them and applied to the modern day. This book tells us that we should help those who are being treated inhumanely, and to use our privilege to help as many people as we can. Don’t let horrendous acts happen under your nose in your own country, and not take action against them. Even if no one else knows that you’re doing it.
I definitely recommend this book and I aim to try out anything else Monica Hesse releases.
This book was absolutely amazing and left me in tears once I finished it. The narrative follows Lale, a holocaust survivor and his time in the clutches of the Nazi’s, and this book is based on a real-life story from the author’s chats with Lale Sokolov and his son. We see his arrival at Auschwitz and how he managed to get into his position through a mixture of luck and work. As he settles in as best as he can in the life he is left with, we are shown him meeting a woman who he decides he justs has to talk to, even though there is a risk of death. We see him attempt to avoid trouble, whilst helping out those around him and attempting to give the kids living in his block some semblance of a normal childhood. There are some shocking moments, ones which will make you feel grateful to be alive and free and living in relative luxury, but thankfully there are also moments where hate is overturned and we get to see some beautifully happy moments come out of atrocious conditions.
Once I finished this book I cried for a good 20 minutes, full on sobbing, because this book is so powerful. It is written beautifully and gives such an insight into the world that was created to dehumanise people, and yet still there was hope throughout that may have been suffocated at times but always managed to keep breathing. This is definitely a must read and I need to get this book in a physical format so that I can read it again. Absolutely amazing and something I will recommend to everyone I know.
Thank you so much to NetGalley for a free eCopy of this book in return for an unbiased review.
Firstly, I’d like to say thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eCopy of this graphic novel in return for an unbiased review. This graphic novel based around the Jewish persecution in WWII is a little different from other novels on the subject, not only is the art within drawn in a more humorous manner than usual, but the perspective is from that of the victim’s son. Second Generation tells the story of how Jews who suffered at the hands of the Nazis had an impact on their family around them once the nightmare of the concentration camps was far in their past.
It was so interesting to read how Michel interpreted his fathers’ experiences and how he felt alienated from his father due to his decision to withhold and disclose certain varying aspects of his life history, depending on the situation and the timing. It also affected what he and his siblings felt they could do in their childhoods, so not to affect their father. He mentions that he feels like he never had the chance to experience teenage angst because his fathers’ opportunity was taken by the Nazis, and despite this being a small issue it really impacts an individuals childhood experience and how their personalities are shaped. There was, for someone who has no family history of being affected by the Nazis, a surprising amount of impact passed down the generations to those who weren’t even born when the Nazis were in power. This was very sad but very interesting to learn about.
I really enjoyed this graphic novel, and although I am biased as I have a fascination with anything based around WWII I genuinely think this will be a book enjoyed by a large number of people and one that should be promoted more. A five star read for me.