Here are the books I read in April 2018. Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Yes, this is by the very same Judith Kerr who wrote The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and yes, this is also a children’s book, but it’s too good to be limited to kids.
As the title suggests, it tells the tale of a Jewish family who flee Germany just before Hitler gets voted into power. Initially, Anna, her parents and her brother escape to Switzerland, leaving most of their possessions behind (including the titular toy pink rabbit). From there, they move to Paris, where Anna’s father has better work prospects.
The book is based upon the author’s own experiences during WWII; Anna in the story is essentially Judith Kerr. An inspiring, exciting, moving, and unforgettable tale about how WWII forced millions of people to flee their homelands and start life afresh as immigrants.
This is the first in a trilogy; now I need to track down the next two books.
The Human Flies by Hans Olav Lahlum
Just look at that amazing cover.
This is a clever, stylish slice of Scandinavian crime fiction. In 1968, a pensioner is found shot dead in his apartment in Norway, with no sign of how the murderer escaped the scene of the crime. Enter criminal investigator Kolbjørn Kristiansen, and his new assistant Patricia, as they attempt to unravel the mystery, by interviewing everyone who lives in the apartment building.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, and any fans of Agatha Christie’s Poirot will love it. A very satisfying whodunnit.
The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
This is most definitely not the kind of book I would usually read! I picked it off my wife’s bookshelf for something light to read during a journey into London. It turned out to be a YA romance.
It’s about Natasha and Daniel, two teenagers, who meet and fall in love during the events of a single day, in New York. The downside to their story is that Natasha’s family are illegal immigrants and are due to be deported back to Jamaica at the end of the day.
Will Natasha find a way for her family to stay in the US? If Daniel and Natasha were destined to meet, as suggested by the coincidences that bring them together, why are those same forces about to tear them apart?
A cute, enjoyable love story, that makes you question the notions of fate and destiny.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
I’ll start by simply saying that this is one of the best books I have ever read.
There was an unofficial, serendipitous thread running through all the books I read so far this month; the theme of immigrants and immigration. The Jewish family fleeing Hitler’s Germany, echoes of post-war migration in the Scandinavian murder mystery, illegal immigrants being deported from the US in The Sun Is Also A Star, and now this, a magical tale about immigrants fleeing war torn homelands to seek a better life elsewhere.
Saeed and Nadia meet and fall in love in an unnamed city that soon falls into war. Like other desperate people all over the world, they discover magic doors that lead them instantly into foreign places, and to potentially safer, new lives.
A wonderful book about the immigrant experience, and what it means to leave your homeland. At it’s heart, though, this is the story Saeed and Nadia’s relationship; will they be able to withstand all the changes they face?
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
Fifteen-year-old Anais is sitting in the back of a police car, being driven to the Panopticon, an institutional home for young offenders. She has blood on her school uniform and can’t remember why she’s been arrested.
That’s how this book starts. At first, I found Anais’ Scottish dialect a bit jarring, and it took me a while to decipher some of the words she uses, but once I got over that, I was quickly drawn into her world.
Not an easy read, but stick with it and you will be rewarded.
Other book related blog posts are here.