From Goodreads: In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
This historical fiction novel is completely different from other’s I’ve read, mainly in that is focused on Hitler’s rise to power… but not as the Hitler we know, but rather as “Uncle Dolf.” We see his rise to power through the eyes of his “adoptive” niece, Gretchen, a young woman who hangs on the very words of Uncle Dolf, idolizing him; he can do no wrong—that is, until he does.
Gretchen has grown up without a father. Her deceased father is well respected in Hitler’s circle as the man who sacrificed himself to save Hitler, but as the story unfolds, Gretched learns that not everything she’s been told is indeed true, and the bullet hole in the back her father’s tunic, as well as some sleuthing and a friendship from an unlikely source, lead Gretchen to finally begin questioning everything she’s been led to believe.
With a sociopathic brother who’s hatred for the Jews minimally outshines his hatred for Gretchen, the world collapses on Gretchen when her brother viciously beats her and Uncle Dolf stands by and does nothing. No reprimand, instead telling Gretchen that it was her fault to evoke the anger of her older brother. Beginning to see the light behind Hitler’s ways, and befriending a Jew, the worst offence she could do during this perilous time in German history, Gretchen must decide what is truth, what is right, and ultimately, what she believes.
This was a very interesting story, though I will admit that the mystery of it all didn’t really do much for me as a reader. My extreme dislike of Hilter and his entire regime made me automatically trust those stating he was a liar, and I held no doubt in my mind that Gretchen’s father was murdered by his own people, with Hitler at the forefront. That being said, Hitler is shown in two different lights here—the doting guardian, and the awful racist coward that he truly is. Though Gretchen loving looked up to Uncle Dolf—as any child would who doesn’t know any better, I was thankful to see her begin to pull away from him, even the slightest, knowing it could result in her ostracizing and possible death.
She is a likable and strong character, but it takes her time to really come into herself and to figure everything out. I would have liked a little more fleshing out of her character, and that of Daniel, the young Jewish reporter she begins to fall for. I also would have liked a little more action—the story did seem to drag just a little bit, becoming convoluted with side plots and stifling the main ones, such as the mysterious circumstances of Gretchen’s father’s death. But overall, it is well written and worth the read. Three stars.
In exchange for an honest review, Balzer and Bray have been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel prior to its release today.