Synopsis (from Goodreads) :
History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with a Jewish man in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II–a marriage that, while happy, created tremendous difficulties for the extended family once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938, and ultimately did not survive the pressures of the time. Annette and Harry’s love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry’s family of Holocaust survivors.
Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. As time went on, however, Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism–a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry’s family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family’s past.
I’ve always been fascinated with WWII, particularly the personal side of it: hearing the stories behind the faces. But I’ve always been drawn to the fiction. When I met my husband, I learned he’d been a history major in college and had a special interest in WWII. Thanks to him, I’ve seen all the documentaries and have delved into the nonfiction side of the book spectrum. All of that to say: Jumping Over Shadows fell into my lap right when I’d hit a lull in my WWII reading, and it was exactly what I was looking for.
But let me clarify: this book is so much more than “just another WWII story”. Gendler shares her family’s history both past and present, from the scandal that was caused by her great-aunt being married to a Jew when WWII began, to Annette herself meeting and marrying a Jewish man in the 80s. It was absolutely fascinating to learn how all of these different experiences throughout the history of these families intertwined, affecting the lives of Annette and Harry in the 80s.
While I could not personally relate to the struggles and situations they faced, Annette wrote in such a way that allows the reader to really feel what everyone in the story is feeling. When they were happy and excited, I was happy and excited. When they were angry or disappointed, I was angry and disappointed. This book offered a different view into the long-lasting effects of WWII on families that had been directly effected by the stigma enforced during the war. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and learning about the personal side of WWII, as well as anyone who enjoys a book that really delves into the intricacies of family relationships.
Thank you to Booksparks for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.