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Those who save us
Jenna Blum
Adult Fiction BLUM

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Blum, who worked for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, takes a direct, unsentimental look at the Holocaust in her first novel. The narrative alternates between the present-day story of Trudy, a history professor at a Minneapolis university collecting oral histories of WWII survivors (both German and Jewish), and that of her aged but once beautiful German mother, Anna, who left her country when she married an American soldier. Interspersed with Trudy's interviews with German immigrants, many of whom reveal unabashed anti-Semitism, Anna's story flashes back to her hometown of Weimar. As Nazi anti-Jewish edicts intensify in the 1930s, Anna hides her love affair with a Jewish doctor, Max Stern. When Max is interned at nearby Buchenwald and Anna's father dies, Anna, carrying Max's child, goes to live with a baker who smuggles bread to prisoners at the camp. Anna assists with the smuggling after Trudy's birth until the baker is caught and executed. Then Anna catches the eye of the Obersturmf?hrer, a high-ranking Nazi officer at Buchenwald, who suspects her of also supplying the inmates with bread. He coerces her into a torrid, abusive affair, in which she remains complicit to ensure her survival and that of her baby daughter. Blum paints a subtle, nuanced portrait of the Obersturmf?hrer, complicating his sordid cruelty with more delicate facets of his personality. Ultimately, present and past overlap with a shocking yet believable coincidence. Blum's spare imagery is nightmarish and intimate, imbuing familiar panoramas of Nazi atrocity with stark new power. This is a poised, hair-raising debut. Agent, Stephanie Abou at the Joy Harris Literary Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this novel is that it is the author's first; its historical sweep, character delineations, and alternating time periods would lead one to believe that Blum had many others to her name. The German-born Anna and her young daughter, Trudy, who suffer a harrowing existence under the Nazi regime, are saved by a brutal SS officer and then an American soldier, who whisks them off to the wilds of Minnesota after the war. But the SS officer exacts a chilling price, and the immigrants are never really accepted in their new home, raising the question of what it means to be "saved." Trudy is obsessed with finding out more about her German heritage and the SS officer, who evidently fathered her, but Anna adamantly refuses to discuss the past. Then Trudy, now a divorced college professor, embarks on a project to interview Germans who survived the war and, in the process, makes an astonishing discovery that will affect the course of her life. Blum, who is half Jewish and worked for four years for Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, tells her story in the present tense in both real time and flashbacks that impart immediacy without causing confusion. Highly recommended for all literary fiction collections and many popular collections as well. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03.]-Edward Cone, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Trudy Schlemmer
Age: Middle aged
German history professor.

Anna Schlemmer
Age: Elderly
Trudy's mother; won't talk about her experiences during the war; married the American soldier who liberated her from Buchenwald.

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