Read it, or save your time? Bohjalian is a talented writer and this is no exception. The novel is centered around the end of WWII, giving it a slightly different angle vs. most books of its genre.
What’s it about? It is 1944 and the tide of the war is turning against Germany. The British and American armies are approaching from the East, and the feared Russians are rapidly advancing West. German citizens, after hearing stories of rape and murder inflicted by ‘Ivan’ (aka the Russians), are fleeing West.
Young Anna and her family, Nazi party members living in the German countryside, decide to join the mass exodus. Along with them is Collum, a Scottish POW who had been working on their farm. Can they outrun the Russians and escape punishment?
Uri is a Jew who jumped off of a cattle car bound for Auschwitz and has been surviving by assuming the identities of dead Nazi and Russian soldiers. Can he stay alive until the war is officially over and tell the world what he has seen?
Cecile, a French prisoner in a Nazi work camp, remains hopeful despite having endured unimaginable atrocities. However, when the SS decide to March them West in the dead of Winter, can the emaciated, tortured women live long enough to see liberation?
Reviewer’s Note: Simply put, this book is powerful and SAD. Not recommend for vacation but a must-read nonetheless.