Author: Anna Blankman
Publication: April 21st 2015 by Balzer + Bray
“We are each our own person, separate from our family, not wholly formed by our experiences. We decide who we want to be.”
So . . . I don’t have this sort of reaction for the novels I read but OMG I teared up. THE EMOTIONS GOT TO ME! I was so invested! Anne Blankman has a way of effortlessly blending facts with fiction into something that’s so captivating and heart wrenching that you can’t help but be completely addicted to this work of art! 🙂 This duology is probably my most favorite historical fictions ever!
(Please note the summary below has minor spoilers for the first book, Prisoner of Night and Fog)
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.
But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.
Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
Gretchen Muller – It’s amazing to see Gretchen’s growth from the first novel to the second. The amount of courage she has despite the heightened stakes in Germany is truly amazing to see. The girl we meet in the first book would have never made the hard choices she does in this novel and it is great to see that much growth within a character.
” . . she chose to see with her own eyes, however painful and ugly the view.”
Daniel – Daniel is such a great character! Because of his reporter background we can see how determined and passionate he is about finding the truth and bringing those at fault to justice and I loved seeing that part of him. I really wish we had Daniel’s perspective in this story just so we can learn more about him and his thought process. I definitely think it would have added an extra boost to the story telling within this story. I still enjoyed Gretchen’s perspective but I really liked Daniel’s character and would have liked to see a bit more from his perspective.
“I don’t believe that we can blame our actions on our upbringings. If we could, then nobody would be responsible for anything they do.”
Setting – Although it took a couple of pages for the story to pick up pace, I ended up glued to the pages after about 50 pages. Blankman really captivates the reader with the high stakes and overall danger of Gretchen’s decision to venture into Germany during the Nazi reign. As soon as you enter the country, you are just filled with this sense of thrill, panic and worry for the characters. It was a rush of emotions!
Plot – While the author does use the Forbidden Love trope, the romance was handled so well. While it does form a major arc of the storyline, the author is careful to weave it into the novel in correct doses while simultaneously focusing on the journey of the characters. It is so realistic and heartwarming that you can’t help but wish they would find their happiness. As with the first book, I also loved the incorporation of psychology. It added an extra level of insight and knowledge to the book and in a way, helps us understand why people are the way they are.
Character Growth – The amount of effort and perseverance that Gretchen has towards locating Daniel is remarkable to see. The lengths of travel she takes to find him is truly sweet but also courageous.
Themes – There are quite a few themes and morals which the author incorporated into the novel such as exploring the concept of relationships whether it is within family, a lover or friends and how we need to have them in balance in order to truly live happily as a human being. Also, while psychology may allow us to understand another person’s mind or how they behave, everyone ultimately has a choice and they are responsible for their actions.
Overall, I honestly believe that this was a solid duology that aligned well with the course of history. As an author, it takes an extensive amount of research in order to produce a work of fiction during this time period. While this is a sensitive topic, I felt as though the author addressed the major concerns professionally.
Have any of you guys read this duology? What were your thoughts on it?
Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all soon with another bookish post!