would you feel if you discovered your family wasn't what you thought it
was? When the lives of three seemingly different people—whom we meet
in different times and places—collide, their worlds shift, bringing the
past into the spotlight.
I have no experience of killing anything. I take extra-long strides or sudden little hops to avoid stepping on insects that cross my path. When there's a wasp in the house, I cup it inside a mug so I can set it free out of the window. Feathered remains left in our garden after a cat has slunk away make me cry. I'm practically Buddhist. So how am I going to kill him?—The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson (Flatiron books, 2016, p. ix [Prologue], uncorrected proofs)
- Setting: London, 1986; Leeds, 1995; New York, 1994
- Circumstances as I know them so far: In 1986, Klaudia is nervous about starting high school: It's not just that her father is the school's janitor but that he's German. The British haven't yet gotten over the war. In 1995 Eliza is living her dream, trying to advance in the local ballet company, making friends, and even meeting a cute guy. She doesn't want anyone to know about her past, so she calls her mother rarely and only in secret. In 1994, Ernst, a German war veteran now living in New York, is undergoing treatments at a Manhattan hospital. Although he always believed he was tough enough to survive anything, he's beginning to have his doubts.
- Genre: literary fiction
- Themes: family, secrets, coming to terms with the past, ethics, hiding from the truth, war
- Characters: Klaudia, her parents, and her classmates; Ernst and his caretakers; Eliza, her flatmates, fellow dancers, and friends
- What I think so far: I was immediately pulled into this story, which alternates between the three settings and time periods. The writing style is atmospheric yet vivid, and the characters are immediately present, easy to envision. I'm not far enough along to know all the secrets or where the story is going to take me, but I'm fully invested. I'm trying not to read the novel too quickly because I want to savor the language and immerse myself in the characters' lives.
- Something to know: The book is published by Flatiron Books under the direction of Amy Einhorn, who has an amazing talent for discovering and acquiring outstanding fiction (and nonfiction). If she brings a book to my attention, it becomes a must-read, and I'm confident I'm going to love it.
- Recommendations: Got out and buy it! The Other Me by Saskia Sarginson is perfect for fans of family stories, literary fiction, and fantastic writing.