kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

Stones from the River

Availability: Ready to download

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Floating in My Mother's Palm comes a stunning novel about ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Floating in My Mother's Palm comes a stunning novel about ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into madness, to her friend Georg whose parents pretend he's a girl, to the Jews Trudy harbors in her cellar. Ursula Hegi brings us a timeless and unforgettable story in Trudi and a small town, weaving together a profound tapestry of emotional power, humanity, and truth.


Compare
kode adsense disini

From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Floating in My Mother's Palm comes a stunning novel about ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into From the highly acclaimed, award-winning author of Floating in My Mother's Palm comes a stunning novel about ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Trudi Montag is a Zwerg—a dwarf—short, undesirable, different, the voice of anyone who has ever tried to fit in. Eventually she learns that being different is a secret that all humans share—from her mother who flees into madness, to her friend Georg whose parents pretend he's a girl, to the Jews Trudy harbors in her cellar. Ursula Hegi brings us a timeless and unforgettable story in Trudi and a small town, weaving together a profound tapestry of emotional power, humanity, and truth.

30 review for Stones from the River

  1. 4 out of 5

    E

    This was an excellent book. I was astounded by Hegi's ability to capture both the everyday life of Germans over the 20-year span leading up to the end of WWII and the experience of a woman with dwarfism. Not once does she dramatize for the sake of Hollywood-like entertainment. Considering the standard treatments for both the topics of dwarfism and WWII, this is indeed a rare accomplishment. I myself have dwarfism and am usually sick of the average portrayal of dwarfs in the media as either amusi This was an excellent book. I was astounded by Hegi's ability to capture both the everyday life of Germans over the 20-year span leading up to the end of WWII and the experience of a woman with dwarfism. Not once does she dramatize for the sake of Hollywood-like entertainment. Considering the standard treatments for both the topics of dwarfism and WWII, this is indeed a rare accomplishment. I myself have dwarfism and am usually sick of the average portrayal of dwarfs in the media as either amusing, adorable, freakish, or pitiful, but Hegi's portrayal of Trudi Montag was amazingly normal and simultaneously resonating. I am dying to know who in Hegi's life gave her the inspiration to portray the experience of a dwarf so accurately without treating her like a novelty. Authors who don't belong to a minority take a risk when they try to tell their story for them, but in this case Hegi succeeded brilliantly. Since I read the book, I have also - coincidentally - been living in Germany now for over three years. My German friends and in-laws appreciate the need for novels set in WWII since they of course recognize the importance of what one can learn, but they are also sick of the theme being treated as a novelty by any author or filmmaker trying to catch the audience's attention. Hegi's non-dramatic portrayal of the era is crucial in proving that WWII and the Holocaust originated in the midst of everyday people. This signifies how it happened, how it should be resolved, and how future tragedies can be prevented.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Reese

    I found this book at a library sale, and ended up buying it because I like the way the first page read. Unlike many of the people who have reviewed this book I loved it from the beginning. Trudi's insight into the world is amazing, and while very mature for her age, with a slight mental leap, completely believable. Ultimately this is a book about differences. When we begin the story, Trudi and her friend Georg are the outcasts, but as the plot progresses-- as the Nazi's gain more power and WWII I found this book at a library sale, and ended up buying it because I like the way the first page read. Unlike many of the people who have reviewed this book I loved it from the beginning. Trudi's insight into the world is amazing, and while very mature for her age, with a slight mental leap, completely believable. Ultimately this is a book about differences. When we begin the story, Trudi and her friend Georg are the outcasts, but as the plot progresses-- as the Nazi's gain more power and WWII begins-- who is and isn't an accepted part of the community continues to morph. What becomes important is how people deal with their relative societal acceptance, as well as how they treat those who have been deemed outcasts. With a satisfyingly ironic ending, it is immensely clear the author hopes this book will challenge our considerations of all those on the the periphery of society.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    She stood firm in the midst of ridicule. She chose life in the middle of war. She took action instead of simply staying silent to atrocity. She gave people books and stories to take them away from their dismal worlds of hunger and strife. Despite being a little woman who was pitied and bullied because of her height, she chose people and books. She was not all good, but she was not all bad. She was human. Staying close to the jetty, she'd streak through the shallow water like a frog, dive to the She stood firm in the midst of ridicule. She chose life in the middle of war. She took action instead of simply staying silent to atrocity. She gave people books and stories to take them away from their dismal worlds of hunger and strife. Despite being a little woman who was pitied and bullied because of her height, she chose people and books. She was not all good, but she was not all bad. She was human. Staying close to the jetty, she'd streak through the shallow water like a frog, dive to the brown sediment of mud and let it billow around her, wishing her body matched its color so she could let it camouflage her. Here, the river belonged to her. In the water she felt graceful, weightless even, and when she moved her arms and legs, they felt long. This novel is about dreams, about the wants and desires of people forced into poverty, about the price for being different, about the cruelty of humanity. She was born to a mother who went insane once she saw what seemed like a large head and small limbs of her beautiful daughter, Trudi. They call her a zwerg, dwarf. Friends betray her, attack her, misuse her. The town shuns her, pities her. Can she find happiness, she wonders constantly? Can she get married someday and have children? Can she love herself, or will she continue to hang from the molding in the living room, stretching her limbs in order to get taller? Despite her turmoil, she has a father's unconditional, tender love. She has stability at the pay-library they own. She has her imagination, and with it, she becomes powerful again and very useful to the town. Somehow, this spring was infusing her with new strength and hope, a deceptive hope, she reminded herself, and yet it soothed her, took her back to the river where, in the shallows below the weeping willows, the water had taken on a peculiar shade of opaque green as though it had soaked up the color of the new leaves, a green that suggested tranquility, reverence almost. This story of the Montag family and the many characters that inhabit their lives during World War II Germany is not what I would call a page-turner. In the beginning it almost lost me, when a five-year old's point of view seemed too mature. Yet the novel is poised and elegiac. It moves at its own pace, inserts backstory between dialogue at its leisure, and infuses various character viewpoints at random moments. The story is sharp, the main character Trudi is alluring to follow, the scenes flow gracefully, and the infusing of political history is inciting and rich.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carey McDonald

    This was the first book I read with my new book club and I feel I need to rationalize the four- instead of five-star rating. The story is so important, and so deftly told, and the author does a great job of capturing the lives of citizens in a small German town from post-WWI through post-WWII. I felt like I came to know many of the characters personally. I cried several times. I had to really rethink what I know about history. And there were moments in the book where I literally had to stop read This was the first book I read with my new book club and I feel I need to rationalize the four- instead of five-star rating. The story is so important, and so deftly told, and the author does a great job of capturing the lives of citizens in a small German town from post-WWI through post-WWII. I felt like I came to know many of the characters personally. I cried several times. I had to really rethink what I know about history. And there were moments in the book where I literally had to stop reading just so that I could mentally and emotionally process what was happening. But man oh MAN was it difficult to get into! I didn't hit my "reading stride" until well into the book, and still I continued to struggle through the rest of the way. Sure, there were passages that flowed wonderfully, filled with amazing, vivid imagery and flawless characterization. But, as my pal Emily said at our meeting: "She really made you work for it." Which, in no way means this is not a worthwhile book. After all, struggle, progress, interconnection, yadda yadda. But it's not one of those books that you "sink" into lazily and backstroke through the whole way. It's much more like treading carefully through a rocky-bottom stream, having to pause before each step, checking to find the most stable stone for your foot (which is already cut and bruised and sore), and all the while having to be alert enough so you don't get sidetracked by a floating log and bumped off of your foothold and back into a bed of unforgiving stones. Which, I guess, makes the title of the story just a little more apropos than it already is.

  5. 4 out of 5

    ·Karen·

    A sensitively imagined portrayal of a small German town in the fateful years between the first and second World Wars narrated from the perspective of an appealing main character who is both of the town in that she is the keeper of their secrets and the source of their gossip, but also other due to her diminutive size, there's a lot to like about this rich and colourful web of life. For me personally it has the added attraction of this fictional town being situated just down the road, the locatio A sensitively imagined portrayal of a small German town in the fateful years between the first and second World Wars narrated from the perspective of an appealing main character who is both of the town in that she is the keeper of their secrets and the source of their gossip, but also other due to her diminutive size, there's a lot to like about this rich and colourful web of life. For me personally it has the added attraction of this fictional town being situated just down the road, the locations ones that I know well. So why did I find myself skipping over huge chunks of it after a while? Well, the writing is plain and straightforward; nothing wrong with that, it's clear and lucid, you don't always want obscurity that makes you work hard, but occasionally it does lapse into history teacher mode. ...the long training in obedience to elders, government, and church made it difficult-even for those who considered the views of the Nazis dishonourable-to give voice to their misgivings. And so they kept hushed, yielding to each new indignity while they waited for the Nazis and their ideas to go away, but with every compliance they relinquished more of themselves, weakening the texture of the community while the power of the Nazis swelled. It's almost as if Hegi couldn't quite trust her ability to show us this happening and has to resort every now and then to these kind of generalities to make sure we've got the message. And then of course none of the snippets of songs or references to poems and stories have the appeal of the exotic for me, so that may also explain a little of my lack of enthusiasm for what is, actually, a very well-written book. It's a very digestible way of learning a lot about German modern history, but maybe I thought in my intellectual arrogance that I knew it all already.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    OK, yesterday I finished the book....... and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say! Yes it is a very, very good book, BUT STILL it only received 4 rather then 5 stars. The positive first! The book is speckled with marvelous lines that get you thinking. For example - "by getting closer to a smaller world, she had found a larger world." Think about that and how true it is! Trudi, the main character's father has died. She says, "What she missed most was the certain OK, yesterday I finished the book....... and I am having a very hard time choosing the stars and knowing what to say! Yes it is a very, very good book, BUT STILL it only received 4 rather then 5 stars. The positive first! The book is speckled with marvelous lines that get you thinking. For example - "by getting closer to a smaller world, she had found a larger world." Think about that and how true it is! Trudi, the main character's father has died. She says, "What she missed most was the certainty of being able to share small details of your life with someone who knew you so well. Who else would possibly care what you'd thought while looking out of the window or what you'd eaten for breakfast?" I feel the reader is strengthend, can learn womething about how to live their life by having these small inconsequential views pointed out. And of course I agree. On the larger scale concerning what the book is maybe "talking about" is how the Germans behavior during the second world war. This too was well depicted, allowing all different character types to be represented. This part of the book was very difficult for me to read. In all honesty I began skimming. I couldn't deal with all the atrocities, depicted ine after the other. There was no light anywhere and in a sense I find this not correct. How do you get through terrible times? Only be seeking out the small things that can make one smile. Furthermore the author discusses EVERYONE in the village. It got to be too much for me. I couldn't keep everyone straight, but yes I did care about them. How can you write a book that isn't depressing about a time such as this? Well the "Book Thief" by Kusak manages, by interspersing some points of joy in the blackness. It is possible to achieve. For this reason I finally chose 4 over 5 stars! This book revolves around so many different themes: the value of story telling, how people choose to live their lives in so diametrically opposed manners, the value of kindness, what is it that makes one person valued by friends and another not, about being "differen" and, if I can say it one more time, about kindness. Should I have given it 5 stars? Something keeps me back! This was written when I started the book: I have only read about 100 pages, but the writing has captured me. Beautiful! Not beautiful in a flat descriptive way, but more that the author captures the souls of her characters. Should I quote a few lines? I am not sure if that would clearly express how these lines make the characters come alive! Here follows one short line to chuckle over. When Trudi is invited by her friend Georg to the blessing of cars, bikes, farm machines and other vehicles by the holy water of the village pastor, Trudi is told by Herr Abramowitz that "catholic water rusts jewish cars!" Lately I have been reading such marvelous books. It is not that I am generous with praise, but rather that GoodReads is a fabulous site where readers can discover the books that they are seeking and where one is introduced to books that one has never befor encountered. I just had to say that I really love this site! My only worry is that publishing companies and or authors turn it into an advertising medium! What a shame that would be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Lukey

    Right from the start I need to preface this review with the fact that I know my review will not do this story justice. It is a most eloquent story told through Trudi, a dwarf born in a small German town during WWI. This story actual begins during the first World War and continues through the second World War. Trudi struggles with being a dwarf and hangs from her hands to stretch her body and tightly ties scarves around her head to keep it from getting any bigger. She yearns for love and believes Right from the start I need to preface this review with the fact that I know my review will not do this story justice. It is a most eloquent story told through Trudi, a dwarf born in a small German town during WWI. This story actual begins during the first World War and continues through the second World War. Trudi struggles with being a dwarf and hangs from her hands to stretch her body and tightly ties scarves around her head to keep it from getting any bigger. She yearns for love and believes that she will not find love as a dwarf. She supplements her desire by learning others secrets and using them to be somewhat of a storyteller. Trudi endures teasing and general shunning by people all her life, but manages to come through WWII, even though The Reich is know to use such anomalies as test subjects. As the story moves nearer to WWII, the sense of doom was so overwhelming to me, I nearly found myself screeching out loud. I had not previously read a book that included Hitler's promises to the people nor did I completely understand why they went along with the terrible things he did, but I do now. I really felt the gradual control shift as Hitler started his programs and recruited the young-it was just eerie. Trudi is sort of a tough cookie and may annoy the reader at times with her fierce independence and stubborn behavior, but don't let that throw you off her trail because you would miss out on one of the most moving pieces of literature out there. A truly moving and interesting story with a hint of folklore, I highly recommend this read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    It was like that with stories: she could see beneath their surface, know the undercurrents, the whirlpools that could take you down, the hidden clusters of rocks. Stories could blind you, rise around you in a myriad of colors. Every time Trudi took a story and let it stream through her mind from beginning to end, it grew fuller, richer, feeding on her visions of those people the story belonged to until it lefts its bed like the river she loved. And it was then that she'd have to tell the story t It was like that with stories: she could see beneath their surface, know the undercurrents, the whirlpools that could take you down, the hidden clusters of rocks. Stories could blind you, rise around you in a myriad of colors. Every time Trudi took a story and let it stream through her mind from beginning to end, it grew fuller, richer, feeding on her visions of those people the story belonged to until it lefts its bed like the river she loved. And it was then that she'd have to tell the story to someone. I've read lots of brilliant books about WWII, but mostly they were plot driven and focused on the protagonists involved. Stones from the River is different in that it describes the lives of many of the inhabitants of Burgdorf (a small fictional German village) from 1915 to 1951. It is beautifully written, but a book you need to immerse yourself in, definitely not a quick easy read. I have a much better understanding of the years building up to WWII, how Hitler convinced so many people to support him, and (for me) most intriguing how people lived with themselves and each other after the war ended. I think two aspects of the author's writing that I admired most was firstly that she never dramatized anything. In this it reminded me of The Diary of a Young Girl, humans can get used to almost anything. Secondly, she introduces us to a a big cast of convincing and memorable characters - they include the good, the bad and the ugly. Each of these individual stories could have filled a book, but together they give us a much better idea and understanding of what happened. GR recommended this to me because I loved The Poisonwood Bible, and I have to agree that the feel is very similar.

  9. 4 out of 5

    misha

    I loved this book from the beginning. The anger and passion of Trudi captivated me from beginning to end, and I had a hard time putting this book down. I found that I had to concentrate harder on this book due to the number of characters, and with all of the german names. This made it much harder to rush through the book, which ultimately should be cherished anyway. I loved Trudi's strengths as a story teller, and her understanding of her surroundings that bordered on magical realism. Will read I loved this book from the beginning. The anger and passion of Trudi captivated me from beginning to end, and I had a hard time putting this book down. I found that I had to concentrate harder on this book due to the number of characters, and with all of the german names. This made it much harder to rush through the book, which ultimately should be cherished anyway. I loved Trudi's strengths as a story teller, and her understanding of her surroundings that bordered on magical realism. Will read again someday when I can spend more time on the individual beautiful words, rather than trying to get to the end of a very good story.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There aren't enough stars in the universe with which to rate this book. As five stars is all I can give "Stones from the River" I do so knowing that no amount of stars nor any review no matter how sexy or lyrical or witty or heart "wrenching-ly" beautiful could ever do the book or Ursula Hegi justice. I wish that "Stones from the River" had an infinite number of pages so that I could read it for the rest of my life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Sullivan

    This is one of the books that I recognize as being objectively wonderful in spite of my own ambivalence about it. It's about a young dwarf named Trudi Montag, and her life in a small fictional German town during the rise and fall of the Holocaust. All throughout her childhood, Trudi yearns to belong, and when she finally does—being German rather than Jewish—the irony is that she no longer wants to. Trudi recognizes from the very beginning that what's going on around her isn't right, and eventual This is one of the books that I recognize as being objectively wonderful in spite of my own ambivalence about it. It's about a young dwarf named Trudi Montag, and her life in a small fictional German town during the rise and fall of the Holocaust. All throughout her childhood, Trudi yearns to belong, and when she finally does—being German rather than Jewish—the irony is that she no longer wants to. Trudi recognizes from the very beginning that what's going on around her isn't right, and eventually she and her father begin harboring Jews in their home. One of the ways this book is so successful is in illustrating the steady rise of the horrific. The people in Trudi's town—decent people she has known her whole life—become complicit with the Nazi regime, either out of fear or misguided conviction that Hitler is doing what's best for their country. This insight felt eerily timely given current events—a warning of how easy it is for seemingly decent people to gradually come to abide unacceptable cruelty. There were parts of this book that I really enjoyed and the writing was good, but at 525 pages, it was too detailed and drawn out for my liking—with a wide cast of characters. I appreciated Trudi's personal journey toward self-acceptance and her gradual realization that we each must create a sense of meaning and belonging for ourselves, but much of the supporting characters' stories felt tedious. I think many readers would love and appreciate this book more than I did, and while I'm glad to be finished with it, I also don't regret reading it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Red Haircrow

    Although I often read history, especially books regarding World War II and Germany, memoirs, collected memories, analysis into the various horrors and sheer arrogant stupidity of what the Nazis and others did, I seldom, if ever, read fiction books about those times. This book, however, caught my eye because the central character was a Zwerg, or dwarf, one of the many groups considered “unfit to live” which were summarily done away with under the Nazi regime. Secondly, this character, Trudi Montag Although I often read history, especially books regarding World War II and Germany, memoirs, collected memories, analysis into the various horrors and sheer arrogant stupidity of what the Nazis and others did, I seldom, if ever, read fiction books about those times. This book, however, caught my eye because the central character was a Zwerg, or dwarf, one of the many groups considered “unfit to live” which were summarily done away with under the Nazi regime. Secondly, this character, Trudi Montag’s best friend as a child was a boy named George whose mother dressed him as a girl and kept his hair long. Without reading anything further into the short synopsis on the back of the novel, I thought it might be about their personal interactions, regarding their “disabilities”, with those who meant for them to die. In the end, the book is about far more. My Background I like living in Germany. It’s where I was born, though not my ethnicity, and was one of my favorite places in the world to live by simply existing. Doing my thing, and being allowed to do so. A separate space. This is quite shocking to some people, those who still look on Germany as Nazi, intolerant and ugly. Whatever one thinks of modern Germany and its population, whether one is insistent on their culpability and propensity to commit evil acts, or is merely doubtful in some way, few people know the depth of the self-loathing, national examination and fury of descendants of “those ones” who participated, “looked the other way” or somehow minimized what happened. Though it is considered a more “unreligious” Christian country, many are insistent almost nearing religious fervor, that one be allowed to live or do what they wish, within universal bounds. That can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. The Holocaust is taught in schools, and students are required to learn about it, but it’s a subject few Germans except scholars or other academicians will discuss with “outsiders”. It’s a subject if brought up, the faces shut down, become wary or misdirective, or if they are the outspoken sort, they will question why you are pursuing the topic. Some, usually the younger generations, don’t want to hear about it anymore because they are sick and tired of the still accusatory comments or jokes made towards them, their people and country. Australia, Spain, the UK, the USA, France, the core EU (or previous EU partners) were all colonizer invaders who attempted genocide, and in some populations succeeded, because of their beliefs of superiority and manifest destiny. It is still happening in areas of Asia and Africa, and the effects of genocide are on-going in the Americas, the Pacific Islands and Australia. Review: I initially found the book difficult to get into, not because of topic, but because of style, which was choppy and sporadic, with a POV which toggled between an omnipotent viewer and the main character as an infant and toddler who made observations about individuals and situations that would be impossible for a child of that age. Often there were snippets of thoughts or memories provided as if from old age looking backwards, yet it was in early childhood details. Many other facts are merely implied. You have to ascertain a conclusion from information presented, and you’re often left doubting or wondering if you understood something correctly. The setting is a small village in Germany, one of the many burgs which often surround or are near a larger, cosmopolitan city. Hegi is excellent at setting a mood so you can “see” and feel what it’s like to live in such a place: the little relationships, the jealousies, the short-lived boasts and affairs which kept everyone just a certain distance apart yet always together. There are good people and bad people, ones you ultimately as a reader can judge as such, yet the author makes no such attempt. She gives you the information, you can draw your own conclusions. You are drawn into the world of Trudi Montag, her father owns a book circulation library and is a former injured veteran of WWI. She is visibly different, painfully and emotionally aware of the fact, yet with ingenius courage survives and keeps a dignity so many thoughtlessly attempt to brush away. That very difference, Trudi’s birth, her dwarfism is yet another trigger into her mother’s slow descent into madness, and poignantly we observe the bittersweet nature of a child’s desire to please and make happy a parent who soon is helpless against their own compulsions. As other peers grow taller, grow up and pursue the nature courses of life, Trudi feels trapped yet determined to also grow in all ways, but her obsession with being “normal” teaches hard yet important lessons which keep her alive during the years to come. Unrequited love, secret abuse, solitary agony and loneliness. Trudi is small in stature but hugely spirited, fierce and passionate in her hates and personal battles. Characterization is extremely important to this writer, even if the amount of names and descriptions can be confusing at times, with each person Hegi shows aspects of the German character, its idiosyncracies, faults and positives. About midway through, Hegi finally hits her stride, as the inevitable events we now know as history, begin to unfold. Almost frenetically we are drawn along in the emotional flood knowing what is going to happen, but as we’ve been made to care for each person, reluctant to progress already realizing the inevitable. Conclusion: For some who are more narrow-minded, they will not take away from the book the knowledge Hegi is trying to impart: that although virtually all Germans of that time knew and felt something very wrong was occurring, and they knew the basis on which it was focused, the ridding of the fatherland of Jews, some resisted and helped those Jews or others as they could with risk to their own lives. Some more than others. Others not at all, but many in some way or another did. It’s easier with hindsight to proclaim what one would have done in such a situation, but Hegi excels at showing just how normal people can change, and how the world around can change you. For those who’ve studied facism, you’ll clearly see the examples of what type of attitude a police state creates in its populace. One most notable is the willingess to turn in others to prove their own loyalty, even children against parents, sibling to sibling, old friends of old friends. And later, to minimize or justify those acts. To conveniently forget what roled they played. Yet the book is not a political statement. It is not a justification. It is not a mediation. It is starkly plain as seen through Trudi Montag’s eyes what people are and can be. As a little person who was often ignored or dismissed, her insight is brutally honest yet acceptable as truth. It is a character which I often find in Germans today, the willingness (if they allow you in) to harshly examine self, to admit to weaknesses or wrongdoing of thought or deed, but with a pragmatism which accepts those facts but is unwilling to be dismayed by them. Life goes on. Again, for good or bad, as this tendency can be problematic in actually caring that one's own actions can negatively impact others even if it feels good for you. That's colonialism still at work. As an editor, I would have been compelled to “clean up” Hegi’s writing, make it more coherent and flowing, yet it would have lost the sparkle which makes unique her voice. As a reader, I found it challenging, but overall this book is extremely successful. I would strongly consider it one not to be missed. Although they make hundreds of films these days about anything and everything, this is a book I would love to see adapted for film. With its snippet like quality, it would be perfect for the big screen. A bittersweet and wonderful gem. I am glad I didn’t put this one to the side simply because I don’t often read contemporary fiction or because the stamp on my copy proclaimed it a “Oprah’s Book Club Selection”. I would have been much less having not read it. It really is near perfect in it’s view of German life of the era, the complexities underlying an entire country and people’s past which continues to haunt with a darkly golden light. Full commentary is copyright to my review site Flying With Red Haircrow http://flyingwithredhaircrow.wordpres...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    Some books disappoint on a second reading, but not this one. When it came time for my book club to read this book I was very excited, because I remembered that I really liked it the first time I read it. And I was not disappointed. I think I liked this book at least as much the second time around as the first. This is a story with two contrasting themes. One is difference. Told mostly from the perspective of Trudi, a dwarf, who feels how different she is from the members of her community on a dai Some books disappoint on a second reading, but not this one. When it came time for my book club to read this book I was very excited, because I remembered that I really liked it the first time I read it. And I was not disappointed. I think I liked this book at least as much the second time around as the first. This is a story with two contrasting themes. One is difference. Told mostly from the perspective of Trudi, a dwarf, who feels how different she is from the members of her community on a daily basis. And she sees how difference in others is persecuted under the Nazis. The other theme of this book is community. One thing I really liked about this book is how we come to know so many members of Trudi's community throughout their lives. We understand as well as Trudi does why certain members of the community do certain things, because we have known them almost as long as she has. Hegi does a wonderful job of bringing the whole community to life. And she is more than equal to the task of describing what the advent of Nazism does to this small German community. She does not shy away from the people who enthusiastically embrace Hitler and his party, but she does portray in a more sympathetic way those who at least question Hitler's policies. Rather than making a judgment call, though, based on how her characters respond to the Third Reich, Hegi seems more interested in demonstrating the range of responses that existed in a small town, and how those differing responses change the character of the town itself.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Noce

    Sul come la recensionista sbarazzina si lasci andare a rivelazioni autobiografiche che vanno ben oltre i suoi dati anagrafici Quando andai a Trieste per l'Università, non so se per la legge degli opposti, o per la tendenza bislacca della vita a scherzare coi pardossi, mi ritrovai a frequentare assiduamente due bellezze indigene. La Betta e La Claudia erano due valchirie alte 1,80 ciascuna, bionde, fascinose, giunoniche e con proporzioni da manuale. Il primo anno eravamo inseparabili. Ma ovviamente Sul come la recensionista sbarazzina si lasci andare a rivelazioni autobiografiche che vanno ben oltre i suoi dati anagrafici Quando andai a Trieste per l'Università, non so se per la legge degli opposti, o per la tendenza bislacca della vita a scherzare coi pardossi, mi ritrovai a frequentare assiduamente due bellezze indigene. La Betta e La Claudia erano due valchirie alte 1,80 ciascuna, bionde, fascinose, giunoniche e con proporzioni da manuale. Il primo anno eravamo inseparabili. Ma ovviamente c'era anche il rovescio della medaglia. Io esistevo solo per loro. Tutti gli altri non mi vedevano. Per quanto anch'io vantassi delle proporzioni canoniche, e guardassi il mondo con due occhi da cerbiatta, come solo le ventenni sanno fare, dal basso del mio 1,63, quando stavo con loro, diventavo magicamente invisibile. Non c'era verso di spiccare manco grazie alla mia pelle ambrata, che faceva da contrasto alle loro pelli seducenti, ma chiare come il calcestruzzo. Così quando accadeva che qualche ragazzo si fermasse a parlare con noi, la conversazione rimaneva sempre ad altezza sventole (nel senso letterale della parola). L'asterisco nero coi capelli arruffati, in mezzo ai due punti luminosi passava in secondo piano, anzi.. al pian terreno. All'epoca risolsi il problema frequentando di meno le stangone, e mettendomi col fratello della Betta; che sfiorava gli 1,90 e faceva collezione di fatine in miniatura, e che probabilmente mi aveva notato per associazione di idee. Allora di certo, non l'avrei saputo cogliere, ma adesso potrei dire che quell'invisibilità coatta aveva un po' il sapore della frustrazione, a cui non facevo troppo caso, perché mitigato dalla leggerezza di una matricola universitaria, che ha toute la vie devant soi per rifarsi. Trudi, la protagonista del libro, non avrebbe potuto gestire la cosa con la mia stessa noncurante faciloneria. Prché lei invisibile ci è nata. E la coattività della sua frustrazione non dipende dal non volerne uscire, ma dal nanismo. Che in quanto malformazione genetica, non lo puoi togliere e chiudere nel terrazzino come fosse lo stendino dei panni. Se i libri potessero essere concepiti come capi double-face, Come pietre nel fiume sarebbe la parte calda e vellutata de Il tamburo di latta. Laddove nel secondo trionfa il lucido cinismo, nel primo impera la potenza dell'umanità. E così Trudi, soffre, si dispera, lotta e alla fine trova il modo per sopravvivere alla cattiveria della gente e alla guerra. Un modo tutto suo sicurmente, ma molto più duraturo e profondo, di quello che poterebbe escogitare chi si appoggia al comfort di un corpo normale. Insomma: il nanismo è come il grasso. Va saputo portare. E Trudi lo porta in modo impareggiabile. Una grande lezione in un piccolissimo corpo.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    Amazing!!! I have read one other book by Hegi, and now I want to read all her works. This book took me a long time to read, but mostly it was because I wanted to savor it. And read every. Single. Word. I loved these characters, and I enjoyed spending time with them, sharing in their stories, reveling in the words that made them come to life. My heart broke with and for some of them. Hegi has a way of bringing her characters to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    First of all, I could have done without all the sexual moments. I know this is part of life, which is what this book is about, but much of it wasn't necessary. It ruined the book for me. I read this book with a lot of apprehension - not trusting it and expecting something horrible at any moment. That being said, this book captures human emotions of all kinds, but focuses on being different. One of the morals I took from this story is how we let our differences become barriers. Like Trudi we often First of all, I could have done without all the sexual moments. I know this is part of life, which is what this book is about, but much of it wasn't necessary. It ruined the book for me. I read this book with a lot of apprehension - not trusting it and expecting something horrible at any moment. That being said, this book captures human emotions of all kinds, but focuses on being different. One of the morals I took from this story is how we let our differences become barriers. Like Trudi we often assume others are scorning our differences, when in reality many people don't notice or plain just don't care. We all walk through life with our own pair of "reality glasses", and this book reminds us that we all have a different perspective and a different pair of glasses. This book is full of despair and suffering. I was hoping throughout that something wonderful would happen to someone, but even good things turned bad in the end. I've read depressing books before, but the author usually leads the reader to believe that despite the hardships, people are resilient and will carry on. There is usually some bright hope in the future. I just didn't get this same feeling from this book. Maybe it was just me, or maybe nothing good did come out of Germany in the 1940s, but I felt that these characters were just going to have to endure life's continuing disappointments until the day they died, either of old age or at their own hands. Now, I need to go find me a fluffy book to read to get this one out of my head.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fergie

    I've read all of Ursula Hegi’s books and have yet to be disappointed. I found this to be her finest work. In fact, Stones From The River stands among my favorite novels. A high school friend turned me onto this book years ago and I am forever glad she did. It's still one of my favorite novels on my shelves. Stones From The River is the first in the Burgdorf series of novels set in Germany around the time of WWII. With the creation of Trudi Montag, Hegi set the stage for some of the finest, most I've read all of Ursula Hegi’s books and have yet to be disappointed. I found this to be her finest work. In fact, Stones From The River stands among my favorite novels. A high school friend turned me onto this book years ago and I am forever glad she did. It's still one of my favorite novels on my shelves. Stones From The River is the first in the Burgdorf series of novels set in Germany around the time of WWII. With the creation of Trudi Montag, Hegi set the stage for some of the finest, most interesting characters and stories modern literature has ever seen. For readers who want to complete the series: to date, the Burgdorf novels by Hegi include (in order): 1. Stones From The River, 2. Floating In My Mother’s Palm, 3. The Vision Of Emma Blau, and 4. Children & Fire.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Bellissimo romanzo, incentrato sul tema della "diversità"e della difficoltà della sua accettazione per chi la vive. La protagonista è Trudi Montag, una bambina, ragazza e poi donna "zwerg", nana. Per tutto il libro risuona questa parola, che sempre ricorda a Trudi la sua diversità. All'interno della storia di Trudi si svolge la tragedia della Germania che diventa nazista. Del nazismo e della guerra viviamo le tragedie attraverso gli occhi e i racconti di Trudi.Ogni accadimento, bello o brutto, d Bellissimo romanzo, incentrato sul tema della "diversità"e della difficoltà della sua accettazione per chi la vive. La protagonista è Trudi Montag, una bambina, ragazza e poi donna "zwerg", nana. Per tutto il libro risuona questa parola, che sempre ricorda a Trudi la sua diversità. All'interno della storia di Trudi si svolge la tragedia della Germania che diventa nazista. Del nazismo e della guerra viviamo le tragedie attraverso gli occhi e i racconti di Trudi.Ogni accadimento, bello o brutto, della vita rimane impresso nell'animo della protagonista come pietre nel fiume, sulle quali l'acqua passa levigandole.Bellissimo!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Escobar

    This book brought home what it was like to live in World War II era Germany and gave me new understanding of the Nazi takeover and what it meant for German residents. It was also somewhat spooky in that regard, that some people were so wholeheartedly caught up in the militaristic regime, and that it was not safe for others to speak out. It made me think of that line from poetry, what we at first abhor we first come to tolerate, and then embrace. Excellent book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    Absolutely gorgeous, lucid writing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lcbogota

    Trudi Montag, a manipulative, resentful, nosy dwarf uses the secrets she gathers to extract her revenge on the townspeople who consider themselves superior and shun her, during the period from the First to Second World Wars in Burgdorf, Germany. As far as synopses go, that would be pretty accurate but it wouldn't make you want to read the book. The main character may be less than sympathetic, but she is sharp and observant, and paints finely tuned, sensitive, and insightful pictures of her fello Trudi Montag, a manipulative, resentful, nosy dwarf uses the secrets she gathers to extract her revenge on the townspeople who consider themselves superior and shun her, during the period from the First to Second World Wars in Burgdorf, Germany. As far as synopses go, that would be pretty accurate but it wouldn't make you want to read the book. The main character may be less than sympathetic, but she is sharp and observant, and paints finely tuned, sensitive, and insightful pictures of her fellow citizens and the German psyche, as they are sucked into the tragic spiral of WWII. Inexplicably, Trudi herself is saved from being sent to the death camps, because although she is arrested, the German officer handling her case lets her go because she saves her life by charming him with her storytelling (à la Scheherazade), plus the fact that he is having an existential sturm und drang crisis that will eventually cost him his life, so we are told. At the end of the story, Trudi reveals that the reason she has told this story is to honor the boy who was once her best friend Georg, and to tell each person's story. She also expounds on the imagery of the river, drawing comparisons to herself and the accumulation of experiences of her life. As a pretext, it is pretty flimsy. In terms of storytelling, it is a reasonable effort, but it does tend to meander and get lost in different eddies and currents that might make you think that they are leading somewhere as part of a directed narrative with deliberate construction, when in fact the end result is a sequence of tangentially linked incidents. That is the problem that historical novels often face: they are driven by the necessities of telling the story to fit the historical facts as they unfolded, as opposed to having a literary and narrative structure. Author Ursula Hegi also has a bit of trouble handling the large number of characters. Because there are so many characters, she ends up having to provide contextual information each time they reappear. The result is that the writing becomes over expository. The reader is given all of the information, interpretations, and explanations; there is nothing subtle, nothing that goes unstated. It is a reasonably good story, but not a great novel.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tifnie

    This is a book that I would not have picked out for myself to read if it weren't for my mother in-law. The story, set in German in the early 1900's, is about a courageous blond, blue eyed girl named Trudi Montag who just happens to be a dwarf. Over the course of 4 decades, Trudi, tells you the story of her town, her friends, her physical limitations, her jealousy, and most importantly the Hitler reign that sweeps through her town exterminating all Jews and anyone who tries to help them. I enjoye This is a book that I would not have picked out for myself to read if it weren't for my mother in-law. The story, set in German in the early 1900's, is about a courageous blond, blue eyed girl named Trudi Montag who just happens to be a dwarf. Over the course of 4 decades, Trudi, tells you the story of her town, her friends, her physical limitations, her jealousy, and most importantly the Hitler reign that sweeps through her town exterminating all Jews and anyone who tries to help them. I enjoyed the story to a point. I was increasing frustrated with Trudi and how she used her size as a weapon as well as a shield. Unfortunately for her, she didn't allow herself pleasure because she didn't think of herself as worthy. This book also raised more awareness and a tenderness for those families who lost lives, who escaped camps, or returned deeply afflicted by Hitler. At one point in the book, the town is returning to "normal" after WWII and Trudi wants to ask people about thier experience though she is urged to "let it go". Trudi says...she doesn't want people to forget this ever happened and by talking about, you keep it alive. It also brought awareness to how the American government closed immigration of Jews to the US when Hitler started reeking havoc. However, Americans came to the rescue AFTER millions of Jews died. It's a part of history that I need to read and remember. PS When the story took on the grave details of Jews disappearing and some details about the death camps, it reminded me of "Snow Falling on Cedars" and how the American's took, um, stole land from the Japanese and sent them to "camps". Hmmm - all this shortly after the shocking news of what Hitler did.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Johnna Adams

    I am lucky that I was trapped on a train for six hours going to Hartford and back, or I think I would have had a hard time getting into this one. Ultimately, it was a lovely and rewarding book-- but the first couple of hundred pages are all setup and a bit difficult to sludge through. The book is about Trudi Montag, a young dwarf in rural Germany born to a WWI soldier and a crazy woman who grows up to defy the Nazis during WWII in her small town. The WWII portion of the book is fascinating and gr I am lucky that I was trapped on a train for six hours going to Hartford and back, or I think I would have had a hard time getting into this one. Ultimately, it was a lovely and rewarding book-- but the first couple of hundred pages are all setup and a bit difficult to sludge through. The book is about Trudi Montag, a young dwarf in rural Germany born to a WWI soldier and a crazy woman who grows up to defy the Nazis during WWII in her small town. The WWII portion of the book is fascinating and gripping. The large cast of small town characters provides an epic storyline and ample room for the author, Hegi, to play out a variety of dramatic wartime fates in creative detail. Trudi's childhood, however, is less interesting and her post-war activity is almost entirely unmemorable (although such a short part of the book that hardly matters). Ultimately, it is not a story of dramatic heroism, but about small and domestic heroic journeys -- which was very deftly handled. Certainly you walk away from the book feeling as if you and Trudi and her father Leo are all good friends and that they are courageous and admirable people well worth knowing. I seem to remember reading a comparison to Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird somewhere. There is a limited similarity in that they are both set in rural Germany during WWII. But, Kosinski's work is by far the stronger-- although if you found his novel too graphic, too disturbing, and too painful, Stones From the River is a much easier and less challenging variation on a similar theme.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I was very disappointed in this book. I didn't care for the main character... Like, literally, I couldn't have cared less what happened to her. Nor did I understand her. How could she remember everything about her mother from the time she was born? Her mother died before she turned 4 and she remembered everything? And she is psychic, I guess? All of these understandings of family secrets and approaching deaths... How? What? I didn't understand her character at all. There were way too many charac I was very disappointed in this book. I didn't care for the main character... Like, literally, I couldn't have cared less what happened to her. Nor did I understand her. How could she remember everything about her mother from the time she was born? Her mother died before she turned 4 and she remembered everything? And she is psychic, I guess? All of these understandings of family secrets and approaching deaths... How? What? I didn't understand her character at all. There were way too many characters in this book, I could not keep everyone straight. It could be because I found this book so tedious that it took me A MONTH to read because I just. did. not. care. about weird dwarf Trudi and her creepy psychic abilities. And the ending? I have no idea what happened in the ending. But, it was dull and incomprehensible, just like the rest of this book. Anyone want to explain the ending? I am obviously not intellectual enough to work it out on my own, but I was very very glad that it was finally over.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Reindert Van Zwaal

    Although there was not really a story going on, there were quite some interesting chapters and touching things. Overall it was not really a book that keeps you willing to read on. More like a movie in which there is no tension at all.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

    I am not in the right reading mood lately! Books aren't sitting right with me. I need to go to reading therapy and figure out what's going on. I've had this borrowed from my friend for a whole year now; does this ever happen to you? She brought it over, so we could share. Okay. This is a really beautiful book. It is so well-written. The language is loving and rich. It's atmospheric and thoughtful; the characters are complex and relatable. Why didn't I love it? I don't know. It is totally fine! Do I am not in the right reading mood lately! Books aren't sitting right with me. I need to go to reading therapy and figure out what's going on. I've had this borrowed from my friend for a whole year now; does this ever happen to you? She brought it over, so we could share. Okay. This is a really beautiful book. It is so well-written. The language is loving and rich. It's atmospheric and thoughtful; the characters are complex and relatable. Why didn't I love it? I don't know. It is totally fine! Don't worry. I'm in a funk, book. This is one of those novels that follows its protagonist right from her birth. Trudi is still a small child for such a long time, for a huge portion of the novel. It doesn't skip any time in her life, treating the experiences of her childhood just as heavily in importance as the experiences Trudi has as an adult during wartime. And that's a weight indeed. Trudi's childhood is not battle-less. She is born with dwarfism and there isn't really a time ever that she isn't dealing with the way that being different affects her. It's fascinating, of course, how we get to see Trudi come up against her feelings time and again, for very good reasons and bad ones. So believably, and in ways I can totally identify with, she grows up into a person who is both extraordinarily compassionate and also extraordinarily defensive. She also carries something very, very heavy with her into adulthood, a traumatizing experience in her adolescence that is so difficult, so difficult. Her personality is so well-drawn, it's fantastic. I understand why she is some readers' favorite character ever. I have to admit, I was surprised how little Trudi's dwarfism mattered in the eyes of the Nazis in her town. As they gradually and cruelly blur the boundaries of what people they consider bad for Germany, and more people from the town are taken away (sometimes for nothing), I fully expected someone to turn on her. The novel dwells a good bit on the creepy emphasis that the Nazi-imposed culture placed on motherhood and, er, breeding. Yet, her physical differences are only brought up once in connection with politics, when an officer insults her (while intimating that he could do much worse). As is often the case in literature, Trudi's differences make her who she is, inside and out, and that's why she's important to us as a protagonist. I was sure that part of what would make our closeness with Trudi feel powerful in the story would be when the biggest fact of her life (her size) was transformed into a threat. But that didn't happen. Which is okay — I felt like I was braced for one blow that didn't come. (Um, I did Google "Nazi Germany dwarfism" to learn a little bit more about real circumstances, but you know — be ready.) Actually… I'm not sure how to explain this. But this book gave me one of those little wake-up moments where the realness of Hitler and the Holocaust leaked through and made me think, wow. WOW. Wow. Don't we all feel this way? This subject is very big. These facts are very hard. We know so much about it, too much to keep turned "on" in our minds at all times, I think. We intellectualize so we can stand to learn more. And the farther away we get, we rely a lot on fictional (or semi-autobiographical) narratives to explore the feelings we need to remember. But: sometimes it leaks back out of its container inside you, and makes you look around. These things truly happened, around people like me. It hurts and scares me. That's what it makes me think, that's what needs remembering. Who, who would know what to do? Similarly, I do feel like mentioning that at times I felt on the edge of exasperation that the politics of the characters were a little too facile, in that the already-frustrating characters became Nazi supporters, and the wonderful Trudi and her father unwaveringly against. Trudi and her father are wonderful, they're great people, and it isn't surprising that they care and follow their instincts to be helpful. But… still. They practically never suffer a moment of keeping silence out of fear. Other sympathetic characters do, but not them. Nope. Trudi seems to have premonitions, sometimes, and while that could be kind of interesting… it really just means that she always makes the right choices. And she always gets out of trouble. The real job of the book, I believe, is to give us this very normal portrait of life in a small village, in a place where people are not used to being bothered, and then let war creep in. We slowly watch it all happen, through the lens of this one place. It's really effective at this, spending decades with them (though for all the time I spent with them, I could never remember anyone's names), and knowing them so well. We get somewhere. The ending was kind of a puzzler, actually, but I was just glad to be there.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chana

    This is a very dense book, with many characters and spanning many years. I had a hard time reading it because it is set in Germany between 1915 and 1952. There is a strong emotional impact, enough that I had to put the book down at one point and read something light-hearted before I could come back to it. The story starts in 1915 when Trudi, a dwarf, is born to Mr. and Mrs. Montag. Mrs. Montag is mentally unbalanced but her husband is very patient and loving, both with his wife who dies when Trud This is a very dense book, with many characters and spanning many years. I had a hard time reading it because it is set in Germany between 1915 and 1952. There is a strong emotional impact, enough that I had to put the book down at one point and read something light-hearted before I could come back to it. The story starts in 1915 when Trudi, a dwarf, is born to Mr. and Mrs. Montag. Mrs. Montag is mentally unbalanced but her husband is very patient and loving, both with his wife who dies when Trudi is 3, and with his daughter. The community is brought to life for us through the eyes of Trudi as she struggles to grow, to fit in, to be like others. But we see as she gets older that she is a questioning child and not weak willed. She has a knack for seeing into people and teasing out their secrets. Her father runs the lending library in town and sells tobacco as well, they have a lot of contact with nearly everyone in town. As I read all this pre-war story I had such a strong sense of terror. The birds were singing, the children were playing, people were going about their daily lives; but from the vantage point of history I knew bloody murder on a grand scale was about to happen. I found myself twisted up with fear and dread, and this is the point where I had to take a break from the book. When I went back to it I was determined to stick it out. I already knew what happened in WWII in Germany, I am at a distance of a number of years, I would read at a remove. I would accept the pain and keep slogging through. It is kind of a long book, I stayed up two entire nights in my determination to finish it. The author was good at creating some sympathy for the citizens caught up in the war, those who tried to resist and were shunned, imprisoned, killed. Those who believed the regime was good for the country, those who came home from the war, destroyed by what they had seen, what they had done. How allegiances were demanded, and remanded. Many of people were extremely frightened and just tried to keep their heads down and do what they were told. Some people were brave and hid their Jewish neighbors, some people informed, others kept secrets. I think one of the saddest aspects of this book was seeing the destruction of the boys we watched grow up in the earlier part of the book, whether they actually died in battle or came home physically or mentally or emotionally damaged. We can see how the early religious education was polarizing, the instruction in obedience, the emotional appeal to patriotism, the turning of family members against each other by the Hitler Youth movement, and the turning of neighbor against neighbor through fear. It is really frightening to see how many, many lives were lost because of this one man's success in building his empire. It took the weight of the world to topple it and try to save everyone who had survived from the madness. Why does this happen, why do we love to have causes, follow leaders, join groups, make armies? Trudi is not a quiet character during this section of the book; she becomes a young woman, in love; she hides Jews in her basement as one of the safe bases to smuggle people out of the country. The end of the book follows the community through the aftermath of the war, a difficult time as well. I did not actually understand the last few pages, but was so tired of reading the book that I did not make a serious effort to really nail it down. It is a very exhausting book to read. I'll end this review with a quote from the book, picked because it is really what I want to be the future of the human race, that we can and will be different but that those differences won't matter. "And what she wanted more than anything that moment was for all the differences between people to matter no more--differences in size and race and belief--differences that had become justification for destruction."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sonja Arlow

    3 1/2 stars I have had this book for over a year, starting the hard copy a few times and always putting it back down again. I am getting very finicky about reading books where the typeset was chosen by a sadist with the intention of torturing the reader. So when I got the digital copy at last I was very excited, and I think my expectations were perhaps a bit too high. The story is told from the viewpoint of Trudie, a Zwerg born just after WW1 in a small fictional town of Burgdorf. My heart went o 3 1/2 stars I have had this book for over a year, starting the hard copy a few times and always putting it back down again. I am getting very finicky about reading books where the typeset was chosen by a sadist with the intention of torturing the reader. So when I got the digital copy at last I was very excited, and I think my expectations were perhaps a bit too high. The story is told from the viewpoint of Trudie, a Zwerg born just after WW1 in a small fictional town of Burgdorf. My heart went out to her in her attempts to grow by hanging off doorframes till her arms ached, wrapping her head in scarves to please just make it stop growing. Her otherness, even in a small sheltered community, made her stand out and suffer injustices while growing up. The one element I really enjoyed was the mystery of the secret benefactor, who would leave gifts for unsuspecting residents, giving them exactly what they most need at the right time. I was a bit disappointed when the identity of this benefactor was revealed. And no matter how many WW2 books I read I always learn something new. I never knew that the Nazi government had monetary incentives to spur on child production in Germany. Offering subsidies to parents starting with child 3 and doubling with each additional child after that. I also didn’t know that like with the rest of Europe Germany too had projects to remove their children from cities that are likely to be bombed, and relocate them to the countryside where it would be safer. I think this is a very important book, showing the impact of the war on a society who are essentially on the wrong side. There are so many books told from the perspective of the victor making it easy to forget that not all Germans were Nazis or Nazi sympathisers. The reason why I didnt give this a full 4 stars is that it felt as if the story seemed to meander at times, particularly at the beginning and the end of the book, which made the overall experience a little anti-climactic. Ultimately this is not a book about dramatic heroism, but rather small acts of courage and defiance. If you like books with a slower pace, getting to know the ins and outs of a small community and a plotline that may not promise fireworks but does ultimately deliver an impact then I can happily recommend this to you. On a side note: Without ever mentioning the word Berlin or Wall somehow the book reminded me that at no point have I ever read about the Berlin Wall so I have earmarked A Night Divided and Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall but welcome any other suggestions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    CynthiaA

    I LOVED this book. The imagery and metaphors are excuisite. The character of Trudi is so wonderfully complex and human (damaged yet lovable -- even admirable at times). The other characters are beautifully crafted and incredibly believable.The setting -- of Germany post WWI and during/post WWII -- incredibly done. It gave the reader a real comprehension of how the political situation took root and became what it ultmately was. The story was both compassionate and yet judgemental. Honest but not I LOVED this book. The imagery and metaphors are excuisite. The character of Trudi is so wonderfully complex and human (damaged yet lovable -- even admirable at times). The other characters are beautifully crafted and incredibly believable.The setting -- of Germany post WWI and during/post WWII -- incredibly done. It gave the reader a real comprehension of how the political situation took root and became what it ultmately was. The story was both compassionate and yet judgemental. Honest but not brutally so. It delved into all the things that have not been said -- still to this day, things unsaid.There were so many wonderful bits and pieces that I would love to get into... but I have to admit,I struggle a bit with the ending. It didn't "ruin" the book nor did it change my opinion of the story's effectiveness or power. But it didn't provide anything further either. I think the story could have ended 3 pages sooner and been far more believable. I get most of what the author is trying to do at the end -- I understand Trudi's sudden comprehension that she really does belong. I understand her realization of using stories to heal, not hurt. I understand her fight against the silence. Maybe another reader will have some enlightened opinions about the last 3 pages that will help me. :o) I really enjoyed Trudi's ability to "see" things about people, and to know things without being told. Although she certainly didn't have that ability with her own life circumstances, did she? Anyhow, the book certainly moved me. In ways I didn't expect. It tackled many difficult subjects including religion, politics, bigotry, mental illness, and physical disability. There were so many threads wound together in a beautiful life-like tapestry of emotions: love, hate, fear, desire, obsession, generosity, beauty, shame, power, cowardice, courage, gentleness, compulsion, belonging, bigotry. And the many metaphors -- of storytelling, of the river, of the river's stones, of the island for little people, of books and painting, of motherhood... All this and effectively set against a backdrop of Nazi Germany... It really is an incredible work. I just need to figure out the ending, LOL.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adonica

    Fairly certain this would have been in the five star range if I hadn't had to take a break from it due to a concussion...Had a tough time with keeping track of the characters after a two week hiatus. Loved the story...loved the perspective...

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.