Monday, June 13, 2011

Far to Go - Pick

Alison Pick

1938, The Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. The Bauer's and their governess, Marta, have it all - a profitable textile factory, good friends and what they think is safety - but when Hitler and his supporters start making trouble the Bauer's begin to realize how dangerous it is to be Jewish in these changing times. Far to Go is the story of how they try to keep their lives and their pride while protecting their dearest treasure - their son and ward Pepik.

Sometimes I pick up a book with the hopes of getting that warm fuzzy feeling that happy endings offer. This was not one of those times. Pick uses her personal connections and the stories she's heard of the Kindertransport to inspire the Bauer's tale, and all of her background information pays off. The Bauer's seem like a real family, with their own secrets and traditions. Their day to day life is pretty average, but in Pick's story it's part of their struggle - trying to keep their lives normal in a changing world. It's a refreshing take on a very common story. The Bauer's and Marta's struggles are against their old friends and their old lives and this made it easy to feel for them without having to see the bigger picture of World War Two.

Pick also inserts a modern tale told from Marta's daughters, Anneliese's, perspective. Her insight is interesting, but it often felt short and forced. In reality, the Bauer's story can stand on it's own, and even though Anneliese's story is connected it felt more like the subject of another book instead of one instep with the plot the reader has come to know. On the other hand I found the letter's from various family members inserted between chapters much more informative and moving. They gave the same insight into the fate of the characters as Annelieses's chapters, but did so in a more subtle manner that really made my heart ache.

Overall Far to Go was a good read. It was short, but that didn't stop it from being a total page turner. It is truly one of those books that will stay for weeks after you finish. If you're looking for something heavy, but still quick for a summer read this is definitely one to pick up.

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