The first part of the story belongs to Jakob and Emmanuelle, survivors of the Holocaust who are liberated from the camp of Buchenwald. Vivid descriptions of what the liberators found there tell of the plight of the prisoners. The fact that Jakob and Emmanuelle were the only members of their individual families to survive attests to their determination to survive. When they are classified as Displaced Persons (DPs), they decide to rebuild their life in America and are married shortly before they board the ship that will carry them. Their struggles at surviving in America and eventually making a life here are all colored by the knowledge that at any moment everything can be taken away from them as it was at the start of WWII.
The second part of the story tells of their son Max, born in the early years of the Baby Boom that followed the war. He grows up never knowing how poor his parents were at the start of their life in America and his parents doing everything they can to provide their son with all the best: a good education, good clothes, wholesome food, and anything he desires. It’s not until Max journeys to Europe in the early 1960s and retraces the footsteps of his parents at the Buchenwald Camp Museum that he realizes why his parents are the way they are. Max vows to provide for his own family – he marries a socialite – and never give either his wife or his children cause to want for anything. But his devotion to work and, in a phrase from the 1960s, The Almighty Dollar, cause him to lose sight of his neglect for his family.
The ending left this reader dissatisfied. In short Ms. Steele was basically a narrator instead of a writer. At times it felt as though the story had been written by a less polished writer and the publisher simply slapped Ms. Steele’s name on the cover in order to sell the book.
I’m happy that attention was paid to the Holocaust and its victims. Because the subject is an important one, I gave this three stars.
RATING: 3 stars