Today, December 7, marks the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the entrance of the United States into World War II. With the popularity of “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr there has been an surge of interest in fiction about WWII. So, in memory of Pearl Harbor and all the lives lost during WWII, here are some books that deal with the horror and hope, and the fear and courage found in wartime.
“The German Girl” by Armando Lucas Correa
Berlin, Germany 1939. Nazi flags and emblems are draping the streets, and Berlin is becoming a dangerous place for Hannah Rosenthal and her family. Their home and possessions are taken away from them, but an escape route is offered via the SS St. Louis, an ocean liner that will carry fleeing Jews from Germany to Cuba. Even as they leave Berlin behind and begin to feel safe, tensions and rumors from Cuba once again cast a shadow of dread. Decades later, Anna Rosen receives a package from her unknown great-aunt Hannah that sends her and her mother on a quest to uncover their family’s past.
“My Own Dear Brother” by Holly Müller
In Nazi-occupied Austria, 13-year-old Ursula Hildesheim’s father is missing in action, her mother starts an affair with a married man and her idolized older brother’s allegiance to the Nazi cause grows every day. A little light comes into Ursula’s dark life when she becomes friends with Schosi, a boy with a mental disability, whose mother does her best to shield him from the Nazis. But with the arrival of the Russians in their rural village, and her brother’s growing hostility, Ursula finds that not all enemies wear the swastika. “My Own Dear Brother” offers a stark look at the morality of war, the price paid by innocents and the contradictions that exist within people.
“Mischling” by Affinity Konar
Twins sisters Pearl and Stasha Zagorski are sent to Auschwitz where they become part of an experimental group of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo. Fascinated by twins, Dr. Josef Mengele awards his inmates with special favors and kindness, while at the same time subjecting them to brutal and gruesome experiments. Throughout their harsh treatment, Pearl and Stasha rely on each other to survive, but one day Pearl disappears and Stasha is left on her own. When the war ends and the camp is liberated, Stasha travels through war-torn Poland, determined to discover her sister’s fate.
“Sirius” by Jonathan Crown
On a lighter note, in “Sirius” the history of World War II is told through the perspective of Levi, a fox terrier living with a Jewish family in Berlin at the beginning of the war. When his family is forced to escape to America, he is renamed Sirius and winds up in Los Angeles. There, he associates with Hollywood celebrities and even finds himself in the movies. But events conspire to send him back to Berlin, where he falls into the ownership of the Nazis and rises to the Fuhrer’s side.
Other WWII novels:
- “The One Man” by Andrew Gross
- “Karolina’s Twins” by Ronald H. Balson
- “The Girl From Venice” by Martin Cruz Smith
- “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly