Out of Splinters and Ashes

Colleen L.

Secrets never stay secret forever—it’s only one theme of this well-written, historical novel with true literary value. Although set in modern times, the author links WWII and the 1936 Olympics with contemporary characters through their grandparents.

Dietrich is a German journalist who seeks truth through facts. However, he discovers that “Amabile,” a novel written by his Oma/Grandmother, may have been based on true events. The love story it describes—between his German grandmother and an American man during Hitler’s reign—horrifies him, so he goes to America on a fact-finding mission. Dietrich is intent on disproving the disturbing notion that his grandmother may have, literally, “slept with the enemy.” Cate is a runner. She solves problems by pounding the pavement. But in truth, Cate runs to escape reality. She has consented to marry a New York politician, one who controls her every move, convincing herself she will be happy in this role. Her grandparents are splitting up over a secret neither is willing to share: something that happened when Grandpa served in WWII. When Dietrich arrives asking questions, Cate wants nothing more than to run away from what could be the truth.

This intricately woven tapestry of past and present is eloquently written. The reader follows as both Dietrich and Cate seek to tease fact from fiction. Cate’s denial of what they discover, however, paints her as naïve. Readers may also question Cate’s weakness of character—her willingness to be manipulated by her fiancé is not consistent with the thinking of most modern women. Still, the many powerful themes weld this narrative together with iron-clad solidity. A truly thought-provoking read!

FS Brown