TILLA by Ilsa Koehn


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No match for Koehn's autobiographical Mischling, Second Degree, her strong, full memoir of growing up in Nazi Germany, this love story is set in Germany amidst the horror and chaos of 1945. Fifteen-year-old Tilla meets Rolf on the road where she, newly orphaned by the Dresden bombing, is traveling to an aunt in Berlin and he, a Hitler Youth on the run, is also heading for Berlin in search of his mother. They fall in love and continue to see each other as some order is restored to Berlin, she enters art school, and he plays jazz piano in a club while preparing for his first concert as a serious pianist. Then Tilla, on an unexpected visit, finds another woman in the bed she had shared with Roll, and breaks off with him for months, relenting only in the last pages on the eve of his concert. Koehn gives no life or depth to the characters or the relationship, but the novel does stand out from similar love stories by virtue of its setting, the ruined and occupied Germany just before and after the end of the war, which is portrayed with assurance, clarity, and feeling.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1982
Publisher: Greenwillow