The German Girl – by Armando Lucas Correa

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The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa 

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Atria Books (Oct. 18 2016)

ISBN-13: 978-1501121142

Synopsis: A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel, perfect for fans of The Nightingale, Schindler’s List, and All the Light We Cannot See, about twelve-year-old Hannah Rosenthal’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion.

Before everything changed, young Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now, in 1939, the streets of Berlin are draped with red, white, and black flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places that once felt like home. Hannah and her best friend, Leo Martin, make a pact: whatever the future has in store for them, they’ll meet it together.

Hope appears in the form of the SS St. Louis, a transatlantic liner offering Jews safe passage out of Germany. After a frantic search to obtain visas, the Rosenthals and the Martins depart on the luxurious ship bound for Havana. Life on board the St. Louis is like a surreal holiday for the refugees, with masquerade balls, exquisite meals, and polite, respectful service. But soon ominous rumors from Cuba undermine the passengers’ fragile sense of safety. From one day to the next, impossible choices are offered, unthinkable sacrifices are made, and the ship that once was their salvation seems likely to become their doom.

Seven decades later in New York City, on her twelfth birthday, Anna Rosen receives a strange package from an unknown relative in Cuba, her great-aunt Hannah. Its contents will inspire Anna and her mother to travel to Havana to learn the truth about their family’s mysterious and tragic past, a quest that will help Anna understand her place and her purpose in the world.

The German Girl sweeps from Berlin at the brink of the Second World War to Cuba on the cusp of revolution, to New York in the wake of September 11, before reaching its deeply moving conclusion in the tumult of present-day Havana. Based on a true story, this masterful novel gives voice to the joys and sorrows of generations of exiles, forever seeking a place called home.

* * *

If you follow my blog, then you already know about my love of historical books – both fiction and nonfiction. The German Girl is a historical fiction novel, but it is based on the true events of the SS St. Louis boat – so basically it is the best of both worlds! I found I learned a lot of the SS St. Louis from this book; something I had no previous knowledge.

Armando Lucas Correa does an amazing job of transporting the reader back to Nazi occupied Germany and heartbreaking story aboard the SS St. Louis. I love how Correa intertwined the past and present with the characters of Hannah and Anna, encompassing both the Holocaust and September 11 by doing this.

One thing I found myself missing was a character that I felt completely invested in and loved (the type of character that walks off the page and into your life – goodness I love those!). This is not to say that the characters in The German Girl are not enjoyable, they are just not loveable…

Nonetheless, I turned the last page with tears in my eyes. This is a definite recommendation to fans of historical fiction.

Rating: 9/10

* I received this book from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review*

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