An elegiac tale of regret from both sides of a cataclysmic war.
Selig Kruger grew up in the shadow of Adolf Hitler. Persuaded by his friends to join the Hitler Youth, he becomes a steadfast soldier for the Fatherland. But when he is pressured to murder a young Jewish girl, he presses a finger to his lips and lets Eva live, shooting his companions instead. Thirty years later, Selig has relocated to Philadelphia, where he attempts to bury his past in his work as a compassionate doctor. Just blocks away, Eva is dealing with her own survivor’s guilt by working as a therapist. When Selig’s son Thomas and Eva’s son Matthew meet in a college class about the Holocaust, the family’s lives become hopelessly intertwined. Rosen, a professor and psychotherapist, infuses the narrative with graceful candor and palpable physical and psychological conflicts. Selig and Eva’s biggest problem is Martin, a violent patient of Eva’s who is following in the steps of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, but they must also deal with the burgeoning relationship between their children. The author does not brand any of his convincing characters as villain, martyr or victim, and by weaving together Eva and Selig’s parallel lives as saved and savior, he offers pointed, well-drawn insights about war and its terrible, protracted aftermath.
A complex blend of memory, cultural identity, the ties that bind us and the ghosts that haunt us.