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All My Love, Detrick: A Historical Novel Of Love And Survival During The Holocaust (All My Love Detrick Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 436 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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This is a difficult book to review because I have both pros and cons.
-I like the topic of a WWII setting in a novel.
-I really liked the main characters of Detrick and Jacob Abdenstern and the father/son type relationship that they formed especially when Detrick's own father fell short in many ways.
-I admired Detrick for standing up for what he believes in no matter the cost.
-Overall, the story line held my interest and there were a few surprises.
-I found myself scrolling back and forth and rereading sections because the chronology seemed off in parts.
-There were some awkward sentences and misspellings that made certain parts a bit tedious to read. I usually don't comment on grammar/spelling errors unless it impacts the story, and unfortunately it did in parts of this book.
-Some of the historical facts were not accurate.
In the end, I'd give this novel 3.5 stars.
Chapter titles read like a children's book, spoiling each chapter, such as these: "Karl Learns a Trade," "Tony is Shot," or "Inga Tells Detrick Her Plan." Each chapter seems to begin and/or end with segments that feel as if they were copied from a low-quality encyclopedia. The chapter entitled "Hitler Becomes Führer" begins thus: "Late one night in the early summer of 1934, Hitler, accompanied by his two closest friends, Goering and Himmler carried out a treasonous plan. They murdered all of the opposing leadership within their political party. This sinister event would go down in history as the Night of the Long Knives. At the beginning of August of the same year, President Von Hindenburg of Germany died. Hitler became the Führer." It's like a list of bullet points in a presentation, not writing prose meant to transplant the reader into the story, drench the reader with atmosphere, or anything at all except provide a superficial sense of time and place. However, any sense of time and place provided will eventually be destroyed by the writing later on. Like the mixture of verb tenses in this weird passage: "On November 9th, as Detrick had been nursing his mother, a black mark had been stamped on the calendar of history. It will be remembered forever in the hearts and minds of those who lived through it." Kagan likes to end chapters this way; it's as if she read somewhere that a chapter should end on a cliffhanger, only she wasn't sure how to write a cliffhanger.
The characters could have been interesting, but they are given a list of physical attributes straight from the cookie-cutter, and their values and beliefs are unevenly defined. The evil people are a lot more interesting that the decent people. For example Eric (I would have thought a German would spell it Erik or Erich, but whatever), the SS fellow who seduces Helga, is given complete motivations and an interesting subtext. He's also written out of the book early on with no accounting for his disappearance. His only function seems to be to impregnate the character Helga and to contribute this extraordinarily bad passage: "If Eric had been clairvoyant, he might have seen what was to come. He might have known that, in the future, when his son had just barely become a man, because of Hitler’s ambitions, Ziggy would lay dying in the arms of a beautiful Jewish partisan far from his family somewhere just across the Russian border. But of course, he could not see that. He saw only as far as a single tomorrow." And Helga herself might have had some impact, but it seems her whole function was to tell us how evil the Lebensborn program was (and to lead into the next book...dear Lord, I trembled at the thought of another book. I disliked the first one enough, and it was free; I will hardly pay for a sequel.) The character Miriam is never well-defined to begin with, but her suicide might have still had some emotional impact if only it hadn't been accompanied by such Wagnerian histrionics as to make it funny. But the bad writing makes a lot of things funny that I'm certain the author didn't intend: "He’d been so caught up and lost in thoughts of her that he did not notice that the Gestapo had arrived until they busted through the door." Egad. Worst of all was the description of a boy stabbed in the throat with a piece of glass: "The dying boy, turned just thirteen a week prior, found it difficult to breathe as he choked on the blood that ran down his throat." He found it difficult to breathe? Really?
The plot was predictable, but it wouldn't have been so bad if only the writing were better. There are incomplete sentences that serve no purpose. Bad grammar abounds (a dictionary would've helped with the difference between lay, laid, and lie). Maybe the author is ESL; I don't know, but someone should have caught this stuff. Punctuation is variable, and a few sentences that leave the reader scratching her head emerge: "If he ran through the gate the metal bar, decapitate both of them."
I have a real love of history and a love of storytelling, and I believe Kagan's stated goals about telling people of the Holocaust are good. I just wish she could write better. Or get a ghost-writer. Or at least take a writing class. I remember once reading that a mediocre story, well-written, would be a hit, but a great story, badly written, would be a train wreck. This book is a train wreck, and I'm sorry for that. But at least I got it on a promo, so it was free.