This is a book of political ideologies played out against family, relationships, trust and loyalty. Trudy Hulst loses her husband during his failed attempt to flee East Berlin and gain his freedom. Soon after she is forced to leave her only child, Stefan behind to save herself from prison. This is the story of her unfailing attempts to re-unite with her child. Historical references continue to draw you into her story.
First, the stark reality of the Berlin Wall, locking an entire city and people behind it. Then the dichotomy of Rolf and Wolfgang’s political ideologies. Rolf, Trudy’s husband forced to be part of Hitler’s Youth growing up, grew to hate everything communism stood for, and helped others flee its politics. His boyhood friend, Wolfgang, who was allowed to leave Germany during the war years, comes back and finds a home in the repressive East Berlin regime, sympathizing with its beliefs and struggling to rise in its ranks.
Constantly looking for a way to get her son back and to get him to West Berlin, Trudy avails herself of aid from a disingenuous American, accompanying the Kennedy visit in 1963. This is the one part of the story where I had to suspend belief and accept it as a literary device to get Trudy to America and propel the story forward. It’s just too hard for me to believe that one of the President’s motocade limos would stop and help someone they bumped against, and bring them to America after hearing their story. The cynic in me thinks they would probably have arrested her or maybe just run over her.
America is of course America, and Trudy is used by her political “friend” to further his career. She does make some headway in her quest to free her son and then when she has hopes of meeting with Mrs. Kennedy and perhaps the President, he is killed in Dallas. Historical references again take over and we re-live the assasination of our president and the grief the world experienced.
Trudy is forced back to Germany to keep her promise to Stefan. Wolfgang has been Stefan’s caretaker when his grandmother passed away, and changes in his behavior and beliefs are beginning to take place. You will discover who is friend and foe, who is the stronger character and what becomes of a mother’s promise to her son.
The writing is good, the history and characters interesting. However, I thought there were a few too many coincidences or lucky circumstances to make the story believable.