The German Girl was a beautifully written story about a young German girl, Hannah, whose family fled from Hitler’s regime. Everything about this was reminiscent of All The Light We Cannot See. Told in two different narratives about seventy years apart, both narrators were young. I was a bit worried this would read like a young adult novel, but the intricate writing quickly calmed that fear. Despite their ages, the narrators’ eloquent word choice gave descriptions of every aspect and created a well crafted novel.
Because the narrators were young, things happened around them and not to them. Hannah observed the way her family’s life was changing and her engaging perspective easily carried the novel. Her youthful approach to life made this the heartfelt story it was. Hannah’s reactions to the derogatory slurs yelled out at her were so honest, that I easily sympathized with her.
Hannah’s family was wealthy and owned several apartments, including the one where they lived. Like so many others, her parents couldn’t imagine how bad life would be for Jews under Hitler, and they stayed in Germany far too long. They finally obtained tickets on a ship to Cuba where they intended to seek asylum along with several hundred other refugees. That plight was so interesting that I hoped it would be more of a focal point than it was. Instead, Hannah spent much of the novel, including her time on the ship, playing around with her friend and romantic interest, Leo. When the ship reached Cuba, the passengers learned that the country was refusing them entry, but the details of the Cuba refugee incident were not well detailed. As a youngster, Hannah was not privy to the heightened crisis occurring around her. The author included snippets of cables to the ship describing the progression of the Cuban government’s position about the refugees, but this was a minor part to the novel.
In the present, Anna was a young girl abandoned by her father. When her father’s family reached out to her mother, they traveled to Cuba to learn about his ancestors and meet his relatives. Her story wasn’t that thrilling and only served to provide closure for Hannah’s story. In the last part of the novel, the story turned to Hannah’s assimilation as an immigrant in Cuba and focused on her family.
I liked this even though it was a slower family drama where major events where the background and not the main plot event.