Sunday, December 11, 2011

Children and Fire

by Ursula Hegi

If you’ve read Stones from the River or The Vision of Emma Blau, you know how Hegi can tell a story. She creates a world: a small German town and its families. And, oh, how these families have a rich and fascinating history!

Enter Thekla Jansen, the young teacher of fourth grade boys at the local Catholic school. Thekla’s own history is richer and more complex than she had ever imagined. Her family’s story will be of great interest.

Set during the rise of Hitler, readers will witness Thekla and her students during a turbulent and troubling time. Thekla will struggle with the political climate of her country, even without knowing that she is the daughter of a Jewish man. Her story is told both in the present (1934) and through flashbacks. Her family’s story is quite amazing. Hegi spins a tale that defies belief—I wonder how anyone could create such a fascinating family history.

A German friend initially recommended Hegi’s writing to me. What greater recommendation could there be? Hegi can take readers to a different time and a different place, and make it all accessible and beautiful.

Loved it.


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