I get the feeling that Beth Gutcheon knew a bit about the Danish resistance during WWII and created a story to fit around it. After doing extensive research of the role of the Danes in saving their Jewish population, she wrote the book. Unfortunately, the stories just don't mesh.
I found Sydney to be an interesting and complicated character. I didn't care for her for most of the book, but I understood how she became the woman she was. All she's looking for is acceptance and strives her whole life for her mom's approval, even while taking joy in irritating her. The fact that Sydney herself alienates her daughters as her mother alienated her makes perfect sense. After all, her mother's behavior toward her guarantees that Sydney will never feel loved enough. In her mind she's under-appreciated and for once wants to be the center of attention. She achieves that with her frequent angry outbursts and by being difficult with everyone. She finally gets a measure of acceptance from her troublesome son, Jimmy, but only as long as she lets him do whatever he wants and defends him, no matter what the charges are and how guilty he is. Yes, Sydney drinks too much, is self-absorbed and spoiled and has no concept of the enormity of what happened to Jews in Europe during WWII, but she herself mentions how small her world is. Her experiences are simply too narrow. How many of us would have been the same way if we lived during that time?
I was disappointed with the lack of info on Berthe's suicide after Sydney found out about it. What happened? And what about Sydney being found in the embrace of an obviously gay woman? What happened? After Candace and whats-his-face die, what happened to The Plywoods?
The portion of the book spent in Europe was absolutely compelling. I would like to read an entire book on that alone. It was well written and inspiring. I put myself in Nina and Per's position and wondered if I would've risen to the challenge. The last chapter, which I presume to be part of Laurus's life movie, was brutal and I'm glad there wasn't more of that in the book, to be honest. But in the other parts of the book, Nina is no more a major character than her parents, Gladdy, etc. So, how strange that the only portion of the movie we see is about her, and not all of Laurus's life, like why he stayed with Sydney.
One more thing - I reread the first chapter of the book, as I frequently do when a book starts in the present and then goes back in time. I'd forgotten about the big deal the kids made about The Dress they found in an upstairs closet. I had to really think about it and then realized it was the dress that Sydney wore at her Coming Out, when her mother came down in the exact same dress. I don't know. While it was a turning point in that it pushed Sydney out of the house, it just didn't seem memorable enough to warrant the treatment it got in the first chapter as if we were supposed to expect some big scene with the dress.
Aaaanyway, I know I had some other issues with the book and would love to sit in a room with the rest of the people who wrote reviews, esp. the 5-star reviews, but I'll have to be content with reading further reviews to see if anyone can give me the insight I missed.
One more thing, I read More Than You Know recently and didn't find it to be the Tour de Force that everyone seems to think it is. I obviously missed something!