Readings from a book lover, teacher, teacher-librarian.
Des lectures d'un bibliophile, enseignante, enseignante-bibliothécaire.
I really dreaded having to read this book. I like the cover; I like almost any cover with a gloss detail, but despite the fact that it's one of our school reads/battle titles for next year, it's a WWII story and that's a total turn off for me. My colleagues love reading that stuff, and I just hate it. Fortunately, I was pleased to discover that politics and the war itself plays a very minor role in the story. In fact, it didn't need to be set in that time frame and location at all, really. In many way, it reminded me more of The Handmaid's Tale and 1984 than a war-story.
I was surprised by how long it took for the narrative to actually get to graffiti. With the title, I had expected it to take a much more central role to the story, but it's not really about that at all; it's a clever title with the homonym, but it captures less of the spirit than I expected. Ultimately, Tauber is undone by his carelessness and self-righteousness, not his vandalism.
At times, I was frustrated with the story. I didn't like how slowly it all seemed to be evolving, especially as it all seemed to lead up to the five kids going on the lam. I was much more interested in their lives on the run than I was in their lives in Leipzig. I did love Otto though, and I thought that the story and character development was well-crafted so that readers would feel as abandoned as Tauber when Otto effectively disowns him. That struck me far harder than when his father tried to do the same.
I was especially struck hard by two scenes. First, when Tauber almost assaults Ruth in her apartment. That was hard to read. The fact that I was reading it in the waiting room at the medical clinic did not help in the least. I started to cry which was made all the worse because I have an intense fear of crying in public and the scene was entirely unexpected. The second scene that got me was when Anniliese was shot (well, the entire scene there really). While it was satisfying to see her act instead of react, it was disheartening to see how she viewed the necessity of her sacrifice. I'm still torn whether she should have lived or not though. When she lived, I kept expecting to read something at the back about how her story was based on real-life events...because why else would she survive such an improbably situation?
I felt the writing was uneven too, though in the classroom that really just gives me more topics to discuss in class. It's sometimes just as valuable for students to see less developed writing (closer to what they might write) than masterful writing, and has enough holes in it that it has strong possibilities for students to write fanfiction:-)