“If we forget people, then they will really die. As long as we keep memories alive, then they live in our memories.”
I decided to start You Are My Sunshine mostly because I wanted to read a proper historical fiction novel after a misleading read a few weeks ago. I normally really enjoy stories set during WWII, fiction or non fiction. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of this novel by Roberta Kagan. There are a lot of different characters and every single one of them seemed flat and quite boring. The way they acted felt forced and unnatural and I wasn’t a fan of the prose at all. The whole plot in general just didn’t feel credible and was quite weak. I guess the author just wanted to include too many things into the novel and it would have been better focusing on less characters and events. I understand why Roberta Kagan wanted to tell us the background story of some of the less important characters as well, but the only result I could see was an even slower pace. And the prose… I’m not sure how to explain it, but the way the characters interacted was almost cartoon-like and not natural at all. All in all it just wasn’t a convincing WWII historical fiction novel for me.
The Polish Zofia is a Jewish girl who ends up pregnant by a school teacher… She decides to take care of her child unmarried, something that is frowned upon by the Jewish community. But she has the help of two women who give her a home and a job. Her little girl Eidel looks just like a non Jewish child… Something that will end up saving her when the Nazi’s invade Poland. Zofia and the two women are sent to a concentration camp where they end up meeting SS Manfred Blau. The story has followed Manfred ever since his teenage years and shows his rise and fall within the Nazi party… Which ends with him and his wife and adopted child being sent to the concentration camp; Manfred has to work there to show his loyalty to the party and he turns into a monster. What will happen to Manfred, Zofia and the rest of the characters? What impact has the war on their lives?
It has been a while since I’ve read a WWII historical fiction novel, so I was really looking forward to You Are My Sunshine. Now I’ve read it, I cannot say it lived up to expectations or that it is actually worth reading. I really feel there are a lot better WWII novels out there that show a better picture of the events during those horrible years. The storylines with Zofia and Manfred have potential, but the prose and bland characters kind of ruined the reading experience for me.