The Family Files

The Books

 

Belonging A

Belonging

Author: Nora Krug

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Publisher: Scribner

Published: October 2, 2018

Number of Pages: 288

 

This graphic memoir uses original artwork, photographs, and historic documents to tell the story of a German woman who is trying to come to terms with WWII on both a national and familial level.

 

*NOTE: I have read lots of books about WWII—non-fiction, fiction, children’s & YA books, even a couple graphic novels/memoirs. Despite all that though, I had never given much thought to how that time period affects modern Germans. When I thought of post-war Germany at all it was mostly in relation to the Berlin Wall. Reading this book made me realize how much WWII still affects modern-day Germans.

*I received a free digital copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Stars Above

 

The Lunar Chronicles (Series)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA Sci Fi (with a dash of dystopia)

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Published: 2012

 

 

Cinderella as a cyborg. Little Red Riding Hood as a trigger-happy farm girl. Rapunzel as a skilled hacker locked away in a satellite. Snow White as a hallucination-haunted step-princess.

Also, the moon is ruled by a sadistic, power-hungry queen with crazy brain powers.

 

The Ties That Bind

 

Both these books feature a female protagonist who finds herself looking for answers in her family’s past—answers that she knows she may not like.

 

In Belonging, Nora Krug shares her own story—that of a German woman living in the U.S. and struggling with the idea of Heimat, or “homeland”. This is a very painful and confusing concept for modern-day Germans because of the reality and nature of Germany’s actions during World War II. Among other tactics, the Nazi Party used the idea of Heimat and national pride to gain power, meaning that any modern use of those terms automatically conjures images of Hitler and his supporters.

The result is national and cultural shame on a level that is difficult for non-Germans to understand. The book delves into Nora’s own family past—particularly the lives of her paternal uncle and maternal grandfather—as she tries to come to terms with her own feelings of guilt and shame over events that took place decades before she was born.

 

Although each book in the Lunar Chronicles introduces a new reimagined fairytale character, the overall arc is about Cinder—the cyborg mechanic. At the beginning of the series, Cinder has no memory or knowledge of her family or where she came from. All she knows is that her stepfather brought her from Europe to New Beijing when she was 11. In fact, that is the very first memory she has—she remembers nothing from her childhood before that.

I don’t want to go too far into Cinder’s backstory due to spoilers. However, as the series progress, Cinder slowly delves deeper into her own family history, how that past affected her own, and what it means for the future. She also wrestles with the horrifying idea that despite her best efforts, she may be just like them.

 

Both Nora and Cinder dig into their own family pasts despite knowing that there may be some very ugly truths there. Yet they keep digging because they are sure that those truths are important to who they are themselves.

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