by Chris Bohjalian
I loved this book. It provided me with perspective. Previously when I thought of WWII, I thought of the horrible atrocities pronounced on the Jews by Hitler and the German people. I will always think of the wrongs done to the Jews, but my view has been expanded to include all people wronged by the evil actions of a relative few.
Skeletons at the Feast tells the story of a prosperous farming family who are forced to leave their home and make their way to the Allied lines to find safety from the invading Russian army at the end of the war. They have heard rumors of the ill treatment of the Jews by their beloved Fuhrer but find them hard to believe. They haven't witnessed the mass evacuations because of their removed location on the farm. My heart ached for their suffering. The mother especially revered Hitler and can't understand why the Russians were invading their country with such contempt and killing the Germans in such vile ways. She asked, "What have we done to make them hates us this much?" As the realization of the truth sinks in she is filled with shame.
The powerful stories of two other main characters are simultaneously told along with that of the Emmerich family. The first is Uri, a young Jewish man who escaped from a boxcar and has been posing as a German soldier for 3 years. The second is Cecile who is forced to march west with the rest of the women in her concentration camp as the Germans try to hide their atrocities from the eyes of the world. The woman are forced to work in a factory for awhile, but as the Russian forces draw closer they are marched further west.