Wednesday 5 February 2020

People Like Us By Louise Fein Book Review*

I said in my 2020 blogging goals that I wanted to share more book reviews this year after drifting away from them last year, despite reading so many books. I've already shared my thoughts on Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty but today I'm reviewing a book that couldn't be any more different, People Like Us by Louise Fein.
People Like Us by Louise Fein book held up in front of bookshelf
'I nearly drowned and Walter rescued me. That changes everything.

Leipzig, 1930's Germany. Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother in the Luftwaffe, herself a member of the BDM. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it. Until Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A jew. Antisemitism is growing by the day, and neighbours, friends and family members are turning on one another. As Hetty falls deeper in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself...'

My review

After being utterly captivated by The Tattooist Of Auschwitz at the start of 2019, I was thrilled when I was asked if I'd like to receive a copy of Louise Fein's newest novel, People Like Us. People Like Us is an immersive, heartbreaking tale set in the 1930's during Nazi Germany and it's actually inspired by the authors family history and the alarming parallels Louise has found between those times and present day. With any book centered around this time, I think it's important to be respectful and careful in how you approach the subject but Louise has written this in such a beautiful and passionate way. Clearly meticulous research has gone into this and like with any book I've read so far around WWII, Nazi Germany and Auschwitz, I felt like I was learning more and more as I went along.

The story is told the through the eyes of teenager Hetty, a bold young woman with dreams and aspirations of her own, but who at the start has been drawn into this world where hatred of Jews is normal and adoration of Hitler is expected. As she gets a little older though and grows closer and closer to her friend Walter, who happens to be jewish, she has to decide between what is 'right' in the eyes of her country or what she feels. I thought Louise portrayed Hetty's struggle brilliantly. She's a young girl falling in love but how do you begin to dissociate yourself with all that you know? I really felt for her and many times wondered how she could possible get her happy ending, and whether she does or not, I won't spoil, but I could sense her turmoil. I also couldn't help but feel devastated for Walter and his family and all that they were going through. It's inconceivable to me how people were ever treated this way but we all know they were and I think Louise told the story in the most sensitive way she could.

Whilst not every character was as likeable as Hetty and Walter, each person felt a vital part of the book. Everyone was relevant, had their own story and added to Hetty's dilemma over her future. It did of course show though just how different opinions can be and how easy it is for people to get swept up in hatred rather than taking a stand and sticking up for those who aren't able to do it themselves, something that made me understand why Louise felt there were similarities between then and now.

I really don't want to give too much away about People Like Us as I think it's a book everyone should read for themselves but I will say it's heart-wrenching, powerful and a story that shows kindness can still be found even in the worst times. I felt so invested in Hetty and Walter's relationship and despite being aware a happy ending for everyone was unlikely, I was rooting for them right from the beginning. Speaking of the ending, I found it incredibly bittersweet and I might have shed a tear or two so be prepared. It's not always an easy read but it's an important one and I don't think stories like this should ever stop being told.

If you want to read People Like Us by Louise Fein too, it's out May 2020.

Do you think you'll be reading People Like Us this year?

*PR Sample

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Heather Nixon said...

It's not a time period of topic I really read - I prefer books that I can escape in and not think too much about x

Hannah said...

This sounds like such a heart wrenching read. I totally agree with you on that these stories should never stop being told xx

Hannah | luxuryblush

jennyinneverland said...

Heart-wrenching and powerful is definitely my sort of book! This sounds great and so intriguing. Think this is the sort of book my Mum would love x


Daisy said...

This book sounds like just my kind of thing to read! It reminds me a teeny bit of Boy In The Striped Pyjamas! Adding this to my TBR list for this year! Thank you, hun!!

Daisy xoxo | TheDeeWhoLived

Lady Writes said...

I'm not sure I could read this as I'm more of a chick-lit gal but it sounds like if you can get into it, a good one to captivate you x

Sophie said...

Oh I love a book that can really pull at you emotionally. This sounds like such an amazing read x


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