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Across Great Divides Paperback – September 7, 2013
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That is the great irony of this book. A family escapes the racial and religious oppression of one country and winds up living in a country that embraces the same intolerance and brutality they just fled.
In this debut novel, Monique Roy has done a commendable job of researching the era and her subject. Her main characters, twins Eva and Inge, are exposed to the growing hatred and disdain of Jews in the Berlin school they attend. It is a painful experience when the people you think are your friends turn against you and even betray you.
It is even more distressing when the girl’s father, Oskar who owns a diamond business, refuses to see what is happening in Germany. (Sadly, a common and fatal attitude of many Jews in Nazi Germany). Oskar is convinced the Nazi’s are only a temporary aberration and that their reign of bigotry and brutality will soon come to an end. His son, Max, knows better. As a member of the resistance, he is convinced the Nazis have something terrible in store for Jews and others that Hitler considers “sub-human.”
Finally, when it becomes obvious that Jews have no future in Germany, Oskar agrees that the family’s survival depends on getting out of the country.
Fortunately, he has diamonds to help pay for the family’s escape as well as connections to the resistance.
Roy’s story is based in part on some of the experiences of her family members who fled Nazi Germany and lived to tell the tale. That fact lends critical detail and credibility to a story that moves swiftly along.
However, as you might imagine in a story of flight and survival, there are abundant tangential characters who ebb and flow in the story and keeping track of them can be a bit daunting. However, to her credit, Roy keeps the focus mainly on the family and their adventures. If there is one criticism of the book, it is probably this: the characters could use a bit more fleshing out. One wants to become emotionally attached to the characters, and that element was missing for me. Once again, this is a debut novel, and strong character development is a skill that takes time to achieve.
Nevertheless, Across Great Divides is an intense and poignant book that not only provides readers with an accurate historical experience but delivers a connection to individuals who survived the Holocaust. Well worth the read.
Across the Great Divide by Monica Roy provides poignant insight into the rise of Hitler, the journey that so many jews took in abandoning thriving businesses and all belongings that they couldn't carry on their persons. The escape routes out of Germany akin to the american underground railroad. The author then juxtaposed the racism experienced by the Jewish people with the racism experienced by the South American people by recounting the rise of apartheid. the author so expertly depicted a jewish lady, Eva, showing humility in her treatment of her south african maid.
Interesting fact: parts of the book are based off of true events, which makes the story that much more intriguing. Monique put together a well rounded and fascinating novel. I can't wait for her next book!!
A wonderful book I highly recommend.
I couldn't help compare this story with "Woman in Gold".
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ACROSS GREAT DIVIDES is the story of Eva and her family in Berlin.Read more