Monday, September 26, 2016

"The German Girl: A Novel" by Armando Lucas Correa



I just adore historical fiction novels. Especially the era of WWII. I have read plenty of WWII fiction novels and this book was different. 

In 1939, before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. Her family moved in Berlin’s highest social circles, admired by friends and neighbors. Eleven-year-old Hannah was often taken by her mother for an afternoon treat at the tea room of the beautiful Adlon Hotel, both dressed in their finest clothes. She spent her afternoons at the park with her best friend Leo Martin. But, in an instant, that sunlit world vanished. Now the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; their fine possessions are hauled away, and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. The two friends make a pact: come what may, they promise to have a future together.

As Hannah and Leo’s families desperately begin to search for a means of escape, a glimmer of hope appears when they discover the Saint Louis, a transatlantic liner that can give Jews safe passage to Cuba. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart from Hamburg on the luxurious passenger liner bound for Havana. Life aboard the ship is a welcome respite from the gloom of Berlin—filled with masquerade balls, dancing, and exquisite meals every night.

As the passengers gain renewed hope for a bright future ahead, love between Hannah and Leo blossoms. But soon reports from the outside world began to filter in, and dark news overshadows the celebratory atmosphere on the ship; the governments of Cuba, the United States, and Canada are denying the passengers of the St. Louis admittance to their countries, forcing them to return to Europe as it descends into the Second World War. The ship that had seemed their salvation seems likely to become their death sentence.

After four days anchored at bay, only a handful of passengers are allowed to disembark onto Cuban soil, and Hannah and Leo must face the grim reality that they could be torn apart. Their future is unknown, and their only choice will have an impact in generations to come.

Decades later in New York City on her eleventh birthday, Anna Rosen receives a mysterious envelope from Hannah, a great-aunt she has never met but who raised her deceased father. In an attempt to piece together her father’s mysterious past, Anna and her mother travel to Havana to meet Hannah, who is turning eighty-seven years old. Hannah reveals old family ties, recounts her journey aboard the Saint Louis and, for the first time, reveals what happened to her father and Leo. Bringing together the pain of the past with the mysteries of the present, Hannah gives young Anna a sense of their shared histories, forever intertwining their lives, honoring those they loved and cruelly lost. ~excerpt from Netgalley

This was a novel from a WWII point of view I hadn't read before. Based loosely on the true story of the voyage of the St Louis, a German transatlantic liner that sailed from Hamburg, Germany to Havana, Cuba in 1939. Carrying almost 1000 passengers, mostly Jews who were fleeing The Third Reich, the majority were approved for US visas and planned to stay in Cuba only until they could enter the United States. The two week voyage forever changed their fates, as Cuban officials decided not to allow all passengers entrance onto the island once it arrived, forcing many to return to Europe. 

Told through alternating characters both past and present, this story tugs at heart strings and brings unexpected smiles while sharing a little known story about German Jews who left Nazi occupied Germany for the chance of a life in Cuba.

This was a phenomenal debut novel by author Armando Lucas Correa and I absolutely enjoyed every word he wrote. He has a vivid, raw, and effortless style of writing. The words he chose made me feel like I was in the story. I had no issues imagining the scenery and no trouble knowing exactly what the characters were feeling. This was a believable, fictional account, and I was happy to get swept away in the story.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for allowing me the egalley for free in exchange for my honest review. It was a 5 star read for me! The German Girl is due to be released on October 18, 2016 so pre-order it now! You won't be disappointed!

Happy Reading!




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