Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back by Maria Sutton

genre: memoir/family history

What if, by accident, you found out that the man you called father wasn't actually your father - not actually the man who gave you life?   And what if your mother refused to tell you the story?  How far would you go to learn about a family you'd never met?

This was Maria Sutton's reality.  Born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany in the aftermath of World War II, she arrived in the United States when she was still very young.  Beyond knowing that her mother was born in a tiny village in the Ukraine, the rest of her history was a secret.  But Maria wanted to know - wanted her own history and needed the details of her own story.  As you can imagine, such a search brings both heartache and joy, especially when your family has been the victims of a period of time like World War II.  Her search takes her, literally, all across the globe as she tries to piece together her family tree.

Maria's story is a pretty amazing one.   The things she is able to learn and the people she is able to meet are nothing short of miraculous.  I think that this book would be very inspirational to family history buffs anywhere, especially because of all the different kinds of records she looks at to find clues in a part of the world that was absolutely ravaged by war. 

Very readable, The Night Sky sometimes waxed a bit redundant.  The writing wasn't super polished and I'm not a big fan of extensive foreshadowing, but for the kind of story she had to tell, the narrative flowed quite well.  I appreciated that she didn't make excuses for her own behavior or anyone else's and when she didn't know the details about a particular event, she gave solid historical information to flesh things out.  It was also interesting to hear about people who were persecuted by the Germans who were not Jewish - their experiences during the war don't seem to be quite as well documented although as many of them were slaughtered.  A solid 4 stars, not only for a book that kept my attention (all the pictures helped)  but for the sheer amount of knowledge that this one woman was able to find out about a family that was lost to her.

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1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

Wow, this sounds like a heartbreaking story. It's nice to know it's so readable.

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