I grew up a child in Nazi Germany, therefore perhaps look at this novel with a more critical eye. After the first few pages bored me, and the little protagonist Sol disgusted me, I came across the word, Lebensborn, and curious, I read on. (for more information on the subject, go to [...])
I sadly could not connect. I found Huston's description of children unnatural, while some of their childish thoughts struck me as real. There is a contradiction in her writing that makes for arduous reading. Yet, sprinkled through the pages are passages of lyrical and magical prose. The last two segments of Sadie and then Krystina-Erra flowed better and the characters were driven by love. Love is an important ingredient in any book. It seems to me that the writer, despite her many prizes, had missed out on doing research. Her editors must be blamed as well. It is a novel, fiction, but since it deals with an important period of history, it should be accurate and researched. Examples: No one drank hot chocolate in the spring of 1945 (chocolate in any shape had not been available for years), no one had a big fat hunk of pork-bone to eat, the weather was not icy cold as January tends to be, but in 1945 it happened to be one of the warmest Januaries, however, Huston describes it as bitter-cold. After the bombing raid on Dresden, the worst on the 13th and subsequent one on the 14th of February, not as she limits the raid to Valentine's Day--when approximately 100,000 - 300,000 people died--the weather was like spring. My father's family camped out--safe from bombs in Dresden--in the open hills, since the weather was so warm. The Americans entered Saxony in April, not in June, and withdrew in July, ceding this part of Germany to the Russians. The Ukraine was already part of the Soviet union before WW II, in fact the Russians had starved many of the peasants there in order to achieve greater dominance and were hated. The Germans were looked upon as liberators, until disillusionment set in when they treated them as inferior Slavs. There were many blonds in the Ukraine, tracing their bloodlines back to Vikings. Sending blond children to Germany if the parents had been killed might be accurate, but this is not what Huston writes. The dirty conditions the children were kept in is contrary to what the Nazis tried to achieve, namely, healthy Aryan children, who would be superior in looks and health. They would have been treated and fed well, perhaps not coddled, but not beaten either. Huston writes fiction, but if a writer deals with history he/she should at least be accurate. There are enough real horrors the Nazis committed, without exaggerating or making up new ones that are untrue.