Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review: Pocket of Guilt

The Schulz family, all members of the Mormon church, is trying to survive in Germany, during and after WWII. When Hitler invades Poland and the war officially begins, the family is quickly feeling its strain, as they have less and less food to eat. Anna Schulz often stands in line for hours, only to find the market shelves empty. This becomes the least of her worries though, when, one by one, the men of the Schulz family head off to defend their country. The story follows Dieter, the middle son, just 10 years old when the war begins, as he learns to cope with the war around him. Read about his stubborn streak and spontaneity, and how it gets him into trouble, how he defies Hitler's law by giving aid to a Jew and subsequently finds himself in the biggest trouble of his life, and what happens when he has to decide between loyalty and love. Will Dieter ever be able to forgive himself for all of the things he has had to do to survive the war, or will he have to live with his guilt forever?

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection:
Very appropriate for the subject matter of the book!

First Thoughts:
Wow, this is going to be an intense read.


My Review:
When it comes to World War II, there is not shortage of books on the subject. Although many of them are historical accounts, there are of course those that are more historical fiction. When I find books like this, I generally feel the need to read them. The real facts are hard to deal with, but when they are told through a fictional family or singular character, it makes it a little easier for me to stomach. With all the atrocities that were committed during this time there is no end to the fodder for stories. When I saw Pocket of Guilt I knew it would be one that I would read.

What sets this book apart from most others that I've read is that it deals with the plight of the average German citizen that lived during this time. It is often ignored that they too were affected quite horrendously. There were food shortages that led to starvation, abuse, and the constant need to guard what you said for fear that you would be pulled in for treason. It is from this average citizen point of view that this book is told, and I'll admit that I was extremely intrigued by that fact. The environment that Dora Lee Thompson recreates for the reader is terrifying and interesting at the same time.

The part of this book that struck me most was that it deals with the trials of teenagers during this time, specifically LDS teens. The reader follows them through their daily lives, watching as they are expected to conform to the brutality of the time. They find themselves unable to survive without being expected to commit criminal acts, and it tears them up inside. I was really impressed by this book mainly because it is told through the eyes of these teens. Although I was already originally interested by the simple fact it dealt with the common people, seeing this dangerous time through the eyes of teens was fascinating.

Overall Pocket of Guilt was a fascinating and well-written read. My one qualm was that the characters I was following were a little underdeveloped. Those who follow my blog know that character development is extremely important to me in a book. I was always hoping to learn a little bit more about them as I read. Still, that was really the only thing that I saw while reading. The rest was all just fascination. I do warn that this book is not a light-hearted read by any means, but it is well worth the time.

Book Details
Title: Pocket of Guilt
Author: Dora Lee Thompson
Publisher: American Book Publishing Group
Pages: Paperback; 332
Source: Received from author for review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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