This book was received in exchange for an honest review. We were not compensated for our opinion of this title.
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer + Bray on 4/22/2014
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult
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In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
In Prisoner of Night and Fog, Gretchen Müller, a National Socialist sympathizer in Hitler’s inner circle, unquestioningly loves her “Uncle Dolf”, so much so that she refuses to believe ill of him, even when confronted with the evidence that he is a despicable human being.
Until that evidence begins to call into question the death of her father whom she loved very much. And then, all bets are off.
I received Prisoner of Night and Fog last year, I think, in a box of books from HarperTeen. I loved the cover immediately, but I felt no real inclination to read it at the time. But when I saw the second book on Edelweiss and read the synopsis, I knew I needed to get this story in my brain immediately.
It was virtually un-put-downable. As the reader, you are immediately transported to 1930s Germany, just before the peak of the Nazi Party. Streetcars, tenement buildings for the poor, and lush gardens enjoyed by the wealthy, it’s all too easy to fall into Anne Blankman’s story about a girl who idolizes the upcoming dictator with such fervor. And that’s what makes this story unique: we all know it, we know the gruesome details of the Nazis burning Jews in camps by the thousands at a time. But what we didn’t know, or at least not very many of us, is what it was like to be a somewhat privileged teenage girl sheltered from the gory details of what her countrymen were doing to others.
Another riveting facet of this story is the inside glimpse of Hitler and how he acted within his circle of comrades. Blankman made me feel like I was standing so close to him, close enough that his shadow fell over me like an umbrella that protects from the rain, and close enough that he can shove you out into that rain if provoked. He was equal parts beautiful and ugly. This look into Hitler’s world reveals a different side of him, one that humanizes with him, and it was really easy to understand why women fell in love with him, and why people found him so charismatic and were willing to follow him.
Daniel Cohen is a young journalist for a paper that Hitler denounces for its provocative stories about the National Socialist Party. Daniel is also a Jew, so he is doubly in danger from the party he follows and writes about. It is he who suspects the truth about Gretchen’s father and he who challenges Gretchen to look more closely at the stories she’s been told since his death. And that’s ultimately why I liked him as a character: he challenged her often, and it’s he who makes her question her own beliefs, the ones she’s been brought up with since she was small. How can she hate Daniel for being Jewish when he doesn’t act like the monster she’s been told Jews are?
PoNaG is also a historically accurate work of fiction. Many of the characters in Blankman’s story existed in real life and did the things that are mentioned in the book. It takes a true talent to take this part of our history and weave a young adult romance through it, without losing the integrity of the history. And I’ve honestly never been all that interested in stories from this time period, even though I enjoyed history as a subject during my school years. But, I think my mind has been changed, because Prisoner of Night and Fog was more than I ever expected it to be. It gripped me from page one and would not let me go.