Sunday, January 31, 2021

Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green


Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Green

Let’s begin with the summary:

Headstrong Johanna Berglund, a linguistics student at the University of Minnesota, has very definite plans for her future . . . plans that do not include returning to her hometown and the secrets and heartaches she left behind there. But the US Army wants her to work as a translator at a nearby camp for German POWs.

Johanna arrives to find the once-sleepy town exploding with hostility. Most patriotic citizens want nothing to do with German soldiers laboring in their fields, and they're not afraid to criticize those who work at the camp as well. When Johanna describes the trouble to her friend Peter Ito, a language instructor at a school for military intelligence officers, he encourages her to give the town that rejected her a second chance.

As Johanna interacts with the men of the camp and censors their letters home, she begins to see the prisoners in a more sympathetic light. But advocating for better treatment makes her enemies in the community, especially when charismatic German spokesman Stefan Werner begins to show interest in Johanna and her work. The longer Johanna wages her home-front battle, the more the lines between compassion and treason become blurred--and it's no longer clear whom she can trust.

And now, my review:

This is an epistolary novel (one that is told entirely through letters). I enjoy this second-person storytelling style. And though we don’t get to explore deep POV in the traditional way, we still get a sense that the heroine is strong, opinionated, and highly intelligent. We respect her. We cheer for her even as we wish she’d mature.

We revisit WWII in this novel as well, which is both interesting and at times heavy.

I liked the secondary characters, whom we learn about via their own letters or how they’re described by the letter writers. I related with the heroine’s love of languages and desire to expand her experience, not return to what she used to know. I liked how she sought to move forward and not be dragged backward. Yet the circumstances gave her no choice. I also liked this approach to a WWII novel—from the POW’s point of view.

Hats off to the author for writing a full historical in this genre. Unfortunately, when my attention started to wane at about 13 percent into the book, I gave up in favor of the dozens of books in my TBR pile. Readers who enjoy a new approach to the WWII historical genre will likely love the subtleties and history of this book. I am interested in the German-American’s experience of that time period and may return to this novel in the future when I’m not under deadline with other reviews and library turnaround.

No comments:

Post a Comment