Kimberly (kimberly_a) wrote,

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Stones from the River

I finished Stones from the River last night, and I loved it. It followed a German woman from her birth, immediately after WWI, through adulthood, after WWII. She's a storyteller, so there are many stories within the main story, but they're short, so I didn't have any trouble keeping track of what was going on.

The book made me think about a lot of things that had never crossed my mind, like what it was like for the Germans when their soldiers returned after WWII, after everyone had heard about the atrocities that had been committed. How do you live with those men and treat them as if everything is the same?

Also, the German women and children (and old men) were terribly afraid when the Americans showed up. They hid in cellars and hoped they wouldn't be killed, because they'd heard frightening things about the American soldiers. It was strange when I got to that part of the book, because the people in the book had been suffering so much during the war that I couldn't help but automatically think of the Americans -- us -- as saviors, but of course it wasn't like that for the Germans. Except those in camps, of course, but the camps really don't play a large part in the book, because it's set in a small town where the camps are just vague rumors, places where their Jewish and/or outspoken neighbors disappear to and don't return, but which the people really don't understand.

After WWII, there was a lot of revisionist history among the Germans -- not the narrator, but those around her -- to make themselves seem less complicit in what had happened, less guilty in their silence while crimes were being committed. How else could they live with it, and live with their men who had been in the war?

So I loved the book, and it made me cry several times. It's one of those books that makes me not want to start another book immediately afterward, because I want this one to settle in my memory and in my thoughts.

I'll probably start another book (The Liars' Club, which is nice and short) right away, though, to keep my momentum going. I've been reading a lot (compared to the past few years, anyway) lately, and I want to keep it up. Encourage the habit.
Tags: books

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