So many topics are covered in this novel that it is challenging to put them all into a review. So, I will mention some of the ones that tugged at my heart strings the most.
A powerful love story that began during WW II in Germany between Max and a young lady (Margarethe) that is a member of the Resistance. Just imagine the smell of battle occurring and a person asks for assistance for a wounded person. Does your conscience allow you to treat the 'enemy'? Having that Red Cross on his sleeve doesn't let Max pass judgement.
The reader feels the angst of war in Germany and the effects that Hitler has on the population. Families are being ripped apart with sons initially becoming members of the Hitler Youth Group and later into service for Germany. Daughters were enrolled in the League of German Girls. So, the reader will also receive information on some of the history in Germany during this period of time.
And, then there is Max...many years later at the age of 90.. wanting his daughter, Beth, to retrieve a box from storage so he can look through the contents. As is the case with most veterans, Max never discussed the war with his family. He always attended the regiment reunions, however, and kept in touch with his wartime buddies.
The secrets of Max's past come to surface and trying to piece the puzzle together is a task. This part of the book takes on a life of its own. Will Max be able to find the answer he is seeking?
One thing I truly loved was Johanna and her profession during the war. Imagine, if you will, a woman trained as a test pilot for the JU 87 aircraft. She was also tasked with improving the braking system for this plane. The author did a remarkable job of weaving strong female characters into the novel which enhanced the plot, I believe.
A roller coaster of a ride throughout this one.. When hearing about the deaths of her family in Latvia, Max's mom uttered the phrase 'Go make the mamzerim pay for what they have done'. Words filled with tears but she gave her blessing to Max to go to war. And, so Max left California to join the war effort in Europe. That is the beginning of Max's journey.