This was a lot more engaging than I expected it to be. I was sucked into the story almost immediately by the peculiarity of the opening scene: a young 20-something girl named Franka ventures into the forest, intending to kill herself, when she comes upon an injured soldier in a German uniform. It’s World War II, and she’s German, but it’s clear that she doesn’t approve of the Nazi regime (which the author refers to more often as the National Socialists, for which the slang term Nazi is short. A rather timely reminder, that). She decides to save him anyway–as a nurse, it goes against her grain to walk away from another human being who needs her help. But in his delirium, the soldier murmurs something in English. Despite the fact that he maintains his German persona once he regains consciousness, Franka is now convinced that he is not who he claims to be. But how can she convince him to tell her the truth?
The story is a slow boil, mostly told in flashback as first Franka trusts John (as his name turns out to be) and tells him her story, and then in turn, he tells her his. Eventually he tells her about his mission, but due to his injury, he can no longer carry it out unaided. He enlists Franka’s help. From there, the story picks up, as the pair encounters one obstacle after another. There weren’t any major twists or surprises, but I was still on the edge of my seat, concerned that this was going to turn out to be one of those bittersweet stories so popular these days. But, I was glad to be wrong–at the very last second, I got my happy ending after all!
My rating: ****1/2
Sexual content: none
Political content: none (historical only)
Violence: present but not gratuitous