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Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
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In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.To me, Prisoner of Night and Fog is historical fiction done right, even though it makes small revisions to the history here and there to make the story work. By lightly manipulating history and wielding the aura of the world's most notorious dictator, Anne Blankman tells a very human story of a girl coming into to her own and finding herself, shirking the ideas and beliefs settled upon her by her family, peers, and society to establish opinions and beliefs that are wholly her own--all with the fascinating lead-up to World War II as the catalyst.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
Gretchen Müller is the darling of the National Socialist Party, and of its leader, Adolf Hitler. Known throughout Munich as the daughter of the man who sacrificed himself to save the soon-to-be Führer, Gretchen has grown up swaddled by the Nazi party's ideology and referring to Hitler as Uncle Dolf, believing him to the kindly, fond man she sees. Reading Gretchen's view of Hitler is fascinating, because it's so hard, in our time, to imagine people truly believing what the man said, buying into his belief system. But, we're gifted with hindsight, the knowledge of what is to come. This is 1931, before Hitler truly began his campaign against the Jewish people, and it's not so hard to understand why Gretchen never suspected anything bad before Daniel shows up, telling her things might not be as she's been told.
But Gretchen is smart, so the moment doubt is culled she digs in and begins to notice more amiss than she could have imagined. She searches for more information regarding her father's death, even though her search brings her to dangerous places. What's so great about Gretchen is that she quickly realizes the faults in the logic she's been living behind and wholeheartedly shirks them. She only worries about defying the party in relation to it hurting those she cares about, but she's not afraid to let others know how she feels and can see the goodness in the Jewish people, the people she's been raised to belief are sub-human. A large part of this comes from Daniel, who is constantly challenging Gretchen, not only when it comes to what she thinks but also in her actions. His fearlessness is the catalyst for Gretchen. Their romance is sweet, honest, and built completely on trust and acceptance.
The only flaw here is that the beginning may run a bit long, spending a bit too much time setting up the story before getting to the meat of the plot. Many readers might get bored and stop reading, but I encourage you to continue on, for the story is completely worth it.
Anne Blankman masterfully winds her characters and situations into real historical events and among real people, giving the reader a well-established sense of place and history. It feels like something that could have been happening during Hitler's rise and calls to attention reasons why and how he came to power. Prisoner of Night and Fog paints Munich as a city on the edge, wracked by Nazis and Communists, with its citizens living in fear even before the worst happened. Even among this, Gretchen's story is one of heartbreak and pain, but her courage allows her to stand up to one of the most feared (and most charismatic, let's not forget) men in history. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a stand-out historical novel that you don't want to miss.
About the author:
Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.
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