Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Love Won't Tear Us Apart

I love my small little family. I have confidence that my mother and father are in fact, my “mom and dad.” They have been married for over 30 years now and so I don’t doubt the legitimacy of me being their daughter. I do have a diverse heritage though, and so there has never been a time where I haven’t been subjected to the absurd comments from others about inferior genetics or just the sense of uneasiness, feeling like an alien in my own skin. The hatred that still exists is often mind-boggling, as we have come so far as a society, The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back is the latest book that I have read and reviewed, after receiving a request from author; Maria Sutton.

Simply put, this memoir follows Maria and her 43-year search to find her biological father, who disappeared shortly after she was born in Germany. Her journey takes us back to times that most were either too young to remember or too painful to forget, and even somewhere in between. The bond between Maria and her mother start off at a slow pace with many pages of story-telling but negating to divulge any pertinent information to help solve this mystery. As more questions are brought forth, there seems to be an underlining sense of urgency in Maria’s behaviour and Julia, Maria’s mother, seems to suddenly break down the walls of her own memories with an abrupt switch in dialogue and literally spills her guts on what really happened, or as best as she could recall.

Maria is strong-willed to the very core and you can feel that deeply within her character. With FBI training under her belt, she is a detective searching for the truth and being without the correct spelling of her father’s name, nor even knowing his true birth location, she is willing to do whatever it takes to meet with her estranged father again. Her character is not without imperfection though, and that is what so many readers can relate to. She is impulsive, self-loathing at times, and irrational, but still determined in her quest. Self-identity also plays a large role in this book, as Maria begins to realize that her visions of her father paint a picture she is not quite ready to let go of. The sacrifices her family made so she could be here today are courageous if not heart breaking, but the revelations bring about change that Maria never imagined would be the outcome of such a journey.

The history documented is detailed, and I’m sure you’ll recognize many terms and maybe even recall stories that were told to you by family and even in school about WWII. I’m not a history buff, but it still is fascinating to get a glimpse inside the lives of others who had endured so much adversity, during periods of time where many people had lost all hope for survival.

There is also a sweet reunion that I will not spoil, but I wanted to mention it since it was quite unexpected from the main story line  I will say, it is not between Maria and her father. I think if that was the case, this memoir would be a little too much like a romantic comedy set in New York City.

My only real complaint is the back-and-forth of the past and present. The transitions weren't as smooth as I had hoped for. It was difficult at times to follow because of the emotional impact that you’re digesting from a certain scene that is being explicitly depicted through imagery and words, and then being bounced back to the current place of the characters and story.

It is enlightening to know that as human beings, we are constantly transcending. Our rich history, no matter how it is perceived, proves to be a valuable asset to navigate us through life and as Maria ultimately discovers, she has finally found what she was looking for.

You can purchase a copy of her book here.