"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Monday, March 30, 2009

March books

I found out about The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff while reading Niki's blog several weeks ago. She had started the book and gave an interesting introductory review of it which made me think that would be a book I'd enjoy. Which I did! I was at the library the other day and happened to find it. I was looking for something else entirely, but saw this and decided I'd read it. The story takes place during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Emma, the main character, is a Jewish woman who changes identities and becomes a gentile Catholic named Anna. It's exciting when she gets the opportunity to work for a Nazi officer though I sense her frustration in having to work for the enemy. Anyway, I liked this book. Although the characters were fiction, I could not helped but be moved thinking of the real-life Jews who had to endure life in ghettos and - worse - being sent to death camps. I actually stopped a couple times in amazement that that really happened ... not just to a few people, but to millions. Simply because they were Jews? Or in some cases sympathized with them or were less than "perfect" in the Nazis' eyes. It's tragic how people can mistreat fellow humans this way.

A few things that I made note of ...

from page 115 -- Emma recalls her father telling her not to blame people (such as Poles who worked for the Nazis or Jews who policed the ghettos) for what they do; "These are desperate times, and people are only doing what they need to do to survive."

Pages 123-4 -- Realizing the Jews were no match for the powerful German armies, Emma questions the purpose of the resistance realizing it's only symbolic; when asked "why are we doing this", Marta replied, "Because we have to do something. We can't just sit here and let our people be destroyed."

Emma's reasoning why she did what she did -- "To get close to the killers so that we can try to stop the killing." (pg. 197) -- I must admit what she did was rather predictable. I still liked the book for the sake of an interesting story. Perhaps I like some predictability.

Around page 316, I noticed all the times resistance, occupation and the use of a bomb and killing a few Nazis at a popular bar brought up images of current conflicts in the Middle East. Interesting parallels in my mind though I know they aren't exactly the same by any stretch. Still, it was so interesting to hear (read) those same words and ideas.

"There is always a choice. . . We have to take responsibility for our actions. It is the only way we can avoid becoming victims and keep our dignity." (pg. 373)

I finally finished What the Bible Is All About, a Bible handbook by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears that I've mentioned in the past. It's not that this book was so dreadful that it took me a long time to read it. Simply, it's around 700 pages, and I read it off and on although more purposefully the last couple of months (minus our days in Syria). Dr. Mears discussed the main themes, characters and teachings of each book of the Bible. I took notes on some of it which I may talk about in future posts. The is a great reference tool if you want a simple-to-understand overview of a particular book of the Bible.

Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella -- definitely chick-lit; light reading; main character has great wit; I enjoyed reading some English phrases that are different from Americans ones

Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin is an over-sized book with lots and lots of charts! The author was a mechanical engineer and architect so I guess that explains it. This book was copyrighted in 1918 so it was interesting to read Larkin's point of view from nearly 100 years ago. Especially since this was written prior to the current state of Israel's establishment some thirty years later. Some of the stuff was a bit odd to me, other things very familiar. One thing that stood out was the realization that Isaac's wife Rebekah was a Gentile! I never really thought of it before. I enjoyed the discussion of the fig tree on page 157 and 158. Also the discussion of the Laodicean church on page 132 was interesting.

Almost Home is an exciting novel by Pam Jenoff. (She wrote the first book mentioned above.) The story is about an American diplomat who revisits her past when she takes a position in London. As she investigates the drowning of her college boyfriend, she comes to realize how it ties into her current investigation of an Albanian mob with ties to the Kosovo Liberation Army. When Jordan is reading a case report from the Balkans and learns of some of the atrocities, she reflects on her own life. "Guilt rises up in me. Growing up Jewish, the lessons of the Holocaust were deeply imbedded in my consciousness. 'Never again' was a familiar refrain. My parents, though not religious, saw this as their personal mandate. They had marched with the civil rights movement in the South in their younger years, protested on behalf of the Soviet Jews not permitted to emigrate during communism. Social justice, my father told me once at Passover, was our obligation as Jews, to free all people from the bonds of oppression as we had once been freed. But we are still failing" (pg. 189). Exciting book.

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