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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 14 reviews
on June 14, 2011
"You can open an envelope and take out something which bites or stings, though it isn't a living creature. I had a letter like that from Franz today."

This opening line from Sanna was a great hook that brought immediacy and a tenseness that rarely dissipates in this well paced, dramatic portraiture of late 1930's Germany. Sanna is a 19 year girl caught between a desire to be flighty, flirty teenager but confronting the reality of a Germany racing full into its darkest period. Irmgard Keun wrote this story in 1937. It must have taken enormous bravery to do so and intelligence to tell it so well.

What the reader gets is a story about a girl observing and living in a swirl of increasing intolerance and oppression where one must seek out the proper worldview and express it in thought, voice and action. But what if that worldview keeps changing? She gets confused. Race laws increasingly isolate Jews, artists, political opponents. Neighbors race to tattletale to the Gestapo which now supercedes the police. Families wonder where a father or son or friend has disappeared to. Others hope to curry favor and get ahead by spying and pounding out the new "worldview" louder.

The story itself focused on Sanna and her friends affections for boys and men. They don't differentiate by race or religion but only what drives the heart. Around them is a world far less tolerant that they can barely understand. Kuen's ability to give such innocent voices clarity to the reader while not discrediting their character is a neat trick that works well. They can observe and offer insight without sounding outside their own youth and limitations.

The book worked for me as it disposes of the idea that "no one knew" or that "things could have been different". No. The Nazi regime was quickly imposing it's will on the people; divided between fervent followers and those to be sent away. They were aiming towards larger far more violent goals that were inescapable. Kuen brilliantly plays this out by introducing 2 English journalists researching the "new" Germany of which they only see good and can only praise despite all the evidence right before them. It makes a great argument on the ability to live in denial.

It's a short book. Well worth reading.
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on April 24, 2012
I think some of the readers didn't "get the point". The point of this book is that a simple young woman should be allowed to be JUST THAT. Why are the intellectuals here not getting that simple people have a right to their simple existence? That fascist totalitarian governments strip individuals of their basic rights. The point is: thugs took over a world power by brainwashing and manipulating a whole bunch of simpletons. Lots of simpletons went along with hate-mongering politics out of personal greed or fear. This book attempts to show how intellectuals rationalize this manipulation and then turn on each other, which ultimately just feeds more power to those up top. Vast groups of innocents suffer for the gain of few. Sound eerily familiar? This book is a classic, epic, snapshot of government gone bad that every citizen should read. It has far reaching implications regardless of heritage, race, or nationality.
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on January 1, 2015
Put this on your high schooler's reading list. It asks a lot of important questions, and the characters are teens and twenty-somethings.
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on February 20, 2013
View inside Germany in 1930's as Nazism gains a foot hold and expands its grip on day-to-day life there. Interesting perspective. Written during that period, author making some what of a come back in popularity.
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on March 31, 2013
interesting topic but there was something dis-engaging about it - maybe it was the convoluted-ness, or simply that I don't have tolerance for old fashioned ways of expression
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on November 22, 2014
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on November 24, 2012
Just another of many,many books written about life in Germany during the rise of the Nazi movement.Many others tell a wider more gripping story.
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