Set against a backdrop of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, the reign of Nazi Germany, and the entire course of World War II in Europe, American Shoes recounts the tumultuous childhood of a young American girl and her family trapped within a country that turned against itself, where human decency eroded and then vaporized. Forced to grow up in the midst of endemic fear stoked by a ravenous madman, American Shoes portrays the breakdown of a society from a child’s point of view, deep inside a land where millions of law-abiding citizens were targeted as threats, and then removed for extermination.
This is the story of a brave girl who, despite not being Jewish, was perceived to be one of those threats and was compelled to keep her American identity secret for fear of her family’s arrest, concentration camp placement, or worse. Fighting to see through a relentless barrage of Nazi lies and propaganda, caught within a nation where resistance or opposition meant incarceration if not certain death, American Shoes illuminates one family’s struggle to survive against impossible odds as a cataclysmic world war marched closer and closer until it was upon them.
My Review: With everything happening around us these days it's the perfect time to reopen the discussion about the past. This book is a perfect example to show pain on both sides, in every war. The story told by Rosel, as the author was known in childhood, is of bravery, loss, and perseverance. She was only 15 when she left a war-rivetted Germany, and despite not being Jewish, she suffered at the hands of her own country. She was an American citizen born of German parents, but she felt she was not welcome on any side. History through Rosel's words teaches us to never hold a whole nation accountable. Her memoir is sprinkled with small sketches, bringing even more life to her story. Despite being marketed as a YA history title, it's a book that can teach valuable lessons to anyone.
Publisher: Beyond Words (February 15, 2022)
Hardcover: 352 pages
Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster @ Edelweiss+