The German Girl is about a little-known event from World War II but it’s an important story nonetheless. The book is the debut novel from journalist, Armando Lucas Correa. It is also a fictional re-telling of the transatlantic passage of the St Louis ship that travelled from Hamburg to Cuba in 1939. It’s a story that remains relevant today as we need to consider the plight of refugees throughout the world.
This story alternates between the perspectives of two young women. There is the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Hannah Rosenthal. She is the daughter of a professor and a member of a wealthy, German family. She is Jewish but in some respects she is accepted by the German community because she looks Aryan, much to the chagrin of the “ogres” (the name that she as a child gives the Nazis.)
Over time, the Rosenthal family is like many of the other Jewish families living in Germany at the time, in that they are subject to discrimination and maltreatment. Eventually the situation becomes so untenable that they sell everything they have in order to buy tickets to travel across the sea and gain passage to Cuba in the hope of eventually settling in America. But things do not go according to plan because Cuba reneges on its promises (i.e. on the previously-issued visas that were awarded to the majority of the passengers.)
Anna Rosen is the other key narrator here. She is Hannah’s long-lost niece who is living in New York with her mother. Rosen’s father seems like a mystery to Anna because he was killed in the tragedies that took place in America on September 11. Anna’s father never got to know that he would become a father someday. Rosen’s aunt reaches out to her niece and the two bond over family history, sadness and shared tragedy.
The German Girl is a cautionary tale about an overlooked chapter in history. It’s an emotional story filled with uncertainty, horror and heartbreak. This is ultimately a well-researched and emotive book that offers another important perspective on the atrocities of the Second World War and patriotism in general.
***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-the-german-girl