…by Philippe Grimbert.
This short novel wraps in it a painful and emotional story of a fifteen year old Philippe, son of Maxime and Tania, who discovers the past that haunts his family. A past that reveals the story about how his parents came together. A past that discloses his Jewish identity. A past that brings to light the suffering of his family during WWII, in the Vichy regime in France. A past that tells him of a brother that he never knew. A past that uncovers the truth behind the pain he’s seen in his parents’, especially father’s, eyes. A past that is shocking, horrific and full of surprises.
What makes this book different from some other stories I’ve read about the WWII period is that this book talks of the after effects of the war on the survivors. Also, the fact that the boy, Philippe, wasn’t born during the war and only learns of the trauma that his family faced years later, helps readers see things from a different point of view. This perspective sheds light on how, even years after the gruesome events, the pain of it all lies deep within and it only takes a memory or two to rekindle the sorrow. How the war changes his parents forever, how the grief in their hearts shows no matter how much they try to let go and move on, how the boy deals with the distressing discoveries – all these and more makes the book a poignant read.
Overall, this compelling and heart wrenching story is a must read. I highly recommend it.
My rating: 5*.
*for the rating scale, click here.