This book is going to break some people’s hearts… the story itself was bittersweet and so reminiscent of the time it’s set in. I wasn’t alive back then, but I’ve read enough WWII stories to get a feel for the era, and it seems to me that all the death and despair was interspersed with hope and life. People just trying to live and find happiness… yet so scared to grasp it because everything was so fragile.
Noa stole my heart. She’s the kind of quiet and unassuming character that creeps up on you and before you know it you’re invested in her happiness. Sure, she had her flaws, but she felt more real for them. And her greatness completely outshone them anyway. For all her youth, she had more courage and conviction than most anyone else. Definitely more than Astrid.
I disliked Astrid from the start as a hypocrite and a bitch, and honestly, even after everything I still think that of her. She set such high standards for others, but who the hell was she anyway to demand such things? She was judgemental of Noa from the start without bothering to try and look further, and yet she still expected complete honesty and respect from her without deserving it in the least. She wasn’t even the strong woman the author tried to make her out to be! Her whole life revolved around other people, and as soon as she was left alone she crumbled… Whereas when the same happened to Noa, her star shone brighter than ever.
And then there was Herr Neuhoff. A background character that didn’t get the attention he deserved. In fact, I’d say he’s slightly more of a hero than Noa. His courage and selflessness was disappointingly shunted to a post script. He never asked for anything while giving everything, and while people were maybe thankful, I still don’t think a big enough deal was made of him. Among all the hate and scorn of the time, it always brings me hope to know that there were really people like Herr Neuhoff, who risked it all by doing what they knew were right.
I think I’m upset at the ending of the book, so I won’t say more about that because it would probably give away the plot without me having to say anything. I will say this though, life (even in fiction) doesn’t always make sense, and people don’t always get what they deserve.