Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Crossing the Borders of Time

I meant to write about this last week, but, well last week was peculiar for me, so I'm just getting to this book review now. The kind folks at OtherPress sent me Crossing the Borders of Time by Leslie Maitland,  a "True story of war, exile, and love reclaimed."

I'm not done with the book yet, but I'm about halfway through and I'm perfectly keen on writing this review before I finish it because it's absolutely amazing. A can't-put-it-down kind of read, which I attribute to the author's background as an investigative journalist. I find that journalists make the best book authors, because their talent is simply stretched out over hundreds of pages rather than across a broadsheet.

The book tells the true story of the author's maternal ancestors and their experiences prior to, during, and after the Holocaust. The family hails from the fine line between Germany and France, Maitland's mother grows up bouncing back between two worlds until they are no longer welcome in France as Germans and no longer welcome in Germany as Jews. Their journey from Europe to Cuba and on to the U.S. is harrowing, shocking, and Maitland describes it in vivid detail. And the entire story is told through a lost-love narrative between Maitland's Jewish mother and her Alsatian Catholic love. A few times I had to stop and sit back to remind myself that Maitland herself wasn't there; her storytelling is that good.

I've learned some shocking things about the experience of Alsatians, French and German Jews, and those caught between France and Germany during Hitler's reign. Did you know that when the Nazis went to France, they basically walked straight in to Paris without firing a shot? That they turned the clocks of France to German time? (So much for time zones, eh?)

Also: There are some outstanding pictures and documents in this book, thanks to Maitland's family's penchant for holding on to important, meaningful family paperwork. It really makes the story come to life.

If you appreciate a good storyteller, if you appreciate history, if you appreciate love lost and found, then I definitely suggest you find a copy of this book and get to it. It's hard to put down, I guarantee you that, so make sure you find a long, nice day to curl up outside with the book and some coffee.