The School for German Brides
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
"Never judge someone by the way he looks or a book by the way it's covered; for inside those tattered pages, there's a lot to be discovered.” - Steve Cosgroves
I'll admit I do judge books by their covers. Many books can be identified by their covers. For example, one can tell that Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a middle-grade fantasy just by looking at the cover.
And clearly, covers like Instant Karma's reveal that their books are cutesy romances, usually ones with a little bit of comedy.
NOTE: This is a generalization. There are exceptions to the rules.
But I do try not to judge people by their cover whether that is their looks or the people groups they belong to. What does this have to do with The School for German Brides? The School for German Brides is a book set in Germany in WWII told from the perspective of two girls: a young German girl named Hannah who has recently been forced to move in with her aunt after her mother died and a Jewish girl who could pass for Aryan and run her material store in peace if only it wasn't for the Jewish man she has fallen in love with.
I fell in love with the concept behind this book a few months before it came out. It came across my Goodreads feed since I have been reading more and more historical fiction and I read the blurb. The blurb talks about three young girls in Germany. Two attend a German school for brides and one finds a young Jewish girl with her newborn baby outside the German school for brides. She feels for the girl and has to make a decision whether or not to help her. What will she do? How could she hide her? And what will the people at the German school for brides say and do if they find out?
The concept is incredibly intriguing. The Germans did truly have schools for the wives of their officers which trained the women in the ideals of Nazis and taught them housekeeping tactics (cooking, baby-raising, etc.). However, the majority of the book is not actually set in this location. The blurb essentially describes the final quarter of the book and spoils any plot twists that you might not have seen coming (for example, the fact that one of the girls has a baby and ends up alone with that baby seeking help from the other women).
Aside from the fact that the blurb doesn't describe the actual book, however, The Scool For German Brides is a great read. Just like most of the other historical fictions I have enjoyed, it has powerful females who are well ahead of their time accomplishing things they shouldn't have been able to accomplish. All three women (the two who have a POV and the third woman who connects the other two together) are very real people. None of them are perfect but rather, they make mistakes and have character arcs as they learn right from wrong and make up for their past choices.
This is why I talk about not judging a book by its cover. In the story, the girls each have to learn this lesson. Tilde has to learn that there are Germans who can be trusted. We often need to learn the same lesson. After WWII, all Germans were viewed as evil and there would have been many young German men forced to fight in the war who were struggling with judgment even if they never committed the same horrible deeds as some of their fellow soldiers. Now, many groups of people are given labels of "evil," "violent" or "cruel" when a small number of their population participates in a horrendous act. Can we judge a person based on their actions rather than the past?
Meanwhile, the other girls in the story have to learn to stop listening to the false propaganda feed to them by their government and people. Everyone says Jews are bad and should be killed does that mean they should kill their friend Tilde? Is there something "everyone says" that you are starting to believe without considering it? Is there a cover you should look past? Read the inside of the book before making an assumption based on what "everyone says."
All this to say that despite the book not being what the blurb said it would be, The school for German Brides was an excellent novel I would highly suggest reading.
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