Those Who Save Us

by Jenna Blum

With a stark look at the Holocaust, Blum weaves a powerful tale of mothers and daughters, secrets, and a heritage of guilt in Those Who Save Us. The story unfolds in two narratives: One chronicles the life of Anna–a German woman who becomes mistress to a Nazi camp officer during World War II. The other narrative follows Trudy–Anna’s daughter–as she searches for answers and resolution about her mother’s past and her own father.

I was intrigued by the story and it’s thought-provoking look at an often-ignored perspective; that of Germans who lived amidst the reality of the Holocaust, and their children who inherit the guilt.

Unfortunately, the story was provocative in more ways than one: Blum litters the story with overt sexual references that left me feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed to be reading her prose. I understand her desire to push readers into the sordid reality of Anna’s life as a Nazi’s mistress, but for me the line was crossed: The amount and degree of sexual content was just too much for me to recommend this book to others, no matter how well-crafted the story may be.