And then I buy them again, forgetting I've already read them. Did it just tonight, dammit. Not his, though, someone else's.
I was a little worried about reading it because it's set during WWII, in France and Germany, and you know books about WWII never end well. Or rarely end well. And this one, well, it ends relatively well for some and not so well for others and not at all well for a few, which is really sad but there really wasn't any other way to go with the narrative and by the time it gets there you realize how true it is and how the sadness helps make what happened even more real.
Speaking of WWII, Martin just got back from his 4-day school trip to Berlin, and now I want to go back. The last time, and only time, I was in Berlin, was when I was in high school. The wall was still up, and I went with my choir and we took a train across East Germany from West Germany (where I lived at the time) and I remember nearly nothing except how exciting it was. I remember the fun with my friends and drinking V8 juice and eating Oreos (my friends told me I had a cast-iron stomach to down that combination) on the train and giving each other backrubs. And taking photos, though they're all at mom's apparently.
We went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum before or after we went on a tour, through the wall, and into East Berlin (which my fingers have consistently typed as Easter Berlin). I remember the wall, and the spookiness of the streets and the desolation and the terrible quality of goods for sale in the department store we visited. I bought a German teddy bear with a little red crown and gold GDR medal around his neck. I thought he was still in the stuffed animal basket in the playroom and I just made Martin look for him, but he's nowhere to be found. He must have been sacrificed in the Great Stuffed Animal Clean-out some years ago. I tried to google him and there are a million stuffed teddies with crowns and medals but none of them is MY teddy.
Anyway, I remember Checkpoint Charlie Museum being really, really small and crammed full of stuff and Martin says it's huge now, with several buildings and it takes up the length of a city block. He said it was still interesting though. But not as interesting, I bet, as when you actually went through Checkpoint Charlie with soldiers with guns pointed at your bus and your passports held up with the picture page against the window of your bus!
I have a piece of the Berlin wall, too. My dad gave it to me for Christmas sometime in the early 90s. It has a certificate of authentication with it, but I am still suspicious. It's just a block of concrete, could be from anywhere, really. But still! A piece! Of HISTORY!
I'm glad I didn't live through WWII. I hope there is never something like that again that I have to live through. Or my children. Or their children. I hope it stays in the past, as history, and fiction, and sadness, and inspiration for hope.
PS: Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!