Ilse Koehn

In my next book I've changed countries and moved from Stalin to Hitler. I'm just continuing the exploration of my mom's childhood. While not that much has been written about life in the USSR (at least not for children and not in English), there's been a ton of stuff written about Nazi Germany. A lot of it focuses, and rightly so, on the Jewish victims.

It is, however, enlightening to learn about the other perspectives during those incredibly mind blowing years. That's why I highly recommend Zusak's The Book Thief (based on his mother's Third Reich experiences). Another book I'd like to recommend - I just finished reading it - is Ilse Koehn's Mischling, second degree, subtitled, My Childhood in Nazi Germany (Greenwillow Books, 1977). It reminds me of a more recent book called Someone Named Eva by Joan M. Wolf (Clarion, 2007). Even the illustrated cover detail - the knotted leather clasp for the tie that the German girls had to wear for their uniforms - looks the same.

Zusak's book is, of course, unique because its narrator is Death. The other two books, by Koehn and Wolf, are written in first person. I find this interesting because when I first started writing my novel, The Kulak's Daughter I had it in third person and then my editor suggested I re-write it as a first person. I'm sure it's become a better novel because of that. The point of view is an important decision to make. And it's something I watch for all the time now when reading.

On another note, it's officially spring and I've survived another winter of walking. Hurrah! I'd like to compare my day job as a letter carrier to that of a writer. Step by step, word by word, we reach our goals.

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