Book Review: The Girl from Berlin
The Girl from Berlin is a World War II perspective you don’t come across often in historical fiction. The book is told in popular style of alternating timelines, which I normally enjoy, but didn’t love in this book. The two timelines are only 10 years apart, the first beginning in 1936 and the second in 1946. I enjoyed the 1936 storyline more, and felt like it was more in depth and gave a fascinating look into the story we don’t often get: the life of an ordinary (but privileged) German citizen during the rise of the Nazi party. The 1946 storyline gives us a look into post-war Germany, which was also very interesting—but almost could have been a sequel. I wanted a little more from this part of the book.
The 1936 storyline tells us the story of Liesel Scholz,, a young German girl whose father is a chemist who becomes involved with the Nazi party. As she watches the world around her change, her adoration of her father is challenged by her observations of Nazi atrocities and she battles with what it means to be a German noticing the way the Nazi party is changing her country—and what it means for her relationships. Both her relationships with her family and with their former housekeeper and her daughter, who are Jewish, are challenged, as she struggles to navigate this new world.
The 1946 storyline brings us to post-war Germany, and Captain Sam Houghton, an American, whose job is to help find members of the Nazi party—specifically chemists. He is drawn to his secretary, a German named Anna Vogel, but soon starts to suspect she is hiding something about her past.
Overall this book does a great job painting the picture of Liesel’s experience living through the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, and I think it’s an important perspective. It’s easy to see the past in black and white, but this book shows a view we don’t usually see, and raises important questions about ambition, about doing what’s right, and about survival in the face of evil.
Thanks to NetGalley, Bookouture and the author for an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.