Thursday, July 11, 2013
War Changes Everything
Finding your identity when growing up is challenging in the best of times. Living through wartime gives navigating all the usual issues of life a new dimension of difficulty, but somehow, crazy as life seems, one adjusts to the new normal. My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve, explores those issues of growing up such as mother/daughter relations, friendships and identity within the historical setting of World War II. Ziska, also known as Frances, guides us through seven years of her life beginning when she is ten in 1938 in Berlin and ending in 1945 in England when she is a young lady of 17. She is forced to flee to England on the Kindertransport, an evacuation program begun by Jews to remove their children to safer countries as life in Germany becomes threatening. On her departure at the Berlin train station, Ziska's mother gives her a delicate gold crucifix to put around her neck as a remembrance. Ironically her family has been Christian for generations, but they are still considered of the Jewish race by the Nazis and are being stripped of their rights and property. Once in England, Ziska's name is changed to Frances and she becomes a foster child of an Orthodox Jewish family. She is drawn to the unfamiliar religious rituals and quickly falls in love with her new family "for the war". She begins to love her new country, England, as well. As the years progress, Frances is worried that she can no longer remember what her German mother looks like. After so many years, is she German or English, Jewish or Christian and which is her real family? This historical novel gives a new and intriguing twist on the World War II experience.