Monday, June 18, 2018

The Love That I Have

Image result for 9781460754634By: James Moloney
Location: FIC MOL
Genre: Historical Fiction- Holocaust

For fans of The Book Thief, a powerful and heartbreaking story set during WW2 that stays with you long after the final page is read.
From award-winning Australian author James Moloney, comes a fresh and compelling story about love, loss and profound bravery.

Margot Baumann has left school to take up her sister's job in the mailroom of a large prison. But this is Germany in 1944, and the prison is Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.

Margot is shielded from the camp's brutality as she has no contact with prisoners. But she does handle their mail and, when given a cigarette lighter and told to burn the letters, she is horrified by the callous act she must carry out with her own hands. This is especially painful since her brother was taken prisoner at Stalingrad and her family has had no letters from him. So Margot steals a few letters, intending to send them in secret, only to find herself drawn to their heart-rending words of hope, of despair, and of love.

This is how Margot comes to know Dieter Kleinschmidt - through the beauty and the passion of his letters to his girlfriend. And since his girlfriend is also named Margot, it is like reading love letters written for her.

Although essentially a holocaust love story, it certainly takes a very different perspective and the power of love in protecting our human spirit; not receiving but giving. I found this simple idea challenging and relevant especially in today’s increasingly disconnected society. Love in our culture is not usually presented this deeply; often it is sexualised and trivialised.
I also enjoyed the challenge to stereotypes with a German guard that was helpful and inmates that were unpleasant. Margot’s family itself shows the full range of attitudes from her mother’s anti-Semitism to her father’s indifference. Even Margot overthrows her own attitudes during the story and then at the end undeservedly finds herself the victim of prejudice at its very worst. 

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