Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke is a work of historical fiction in which both the historical context and the fictional plot are well done. Rachel, a fictional American woman is taken to Germany by her father. While there, she finds a childhood friend in great distress because her Deaf daughter is in danger as the Nazi’s seek to rid themselves of all but the Nazi ideal. The child’s father, an SS officer, wants to be rid of his “defective” daughter and marry a woman who will give him perfect Aryan children.
While helping her friend, Rachel meets a friendly American journalist, uncovers the history of her birth family, and learns she is an unfinished “project” of Hitler’s unethical doctors. Real events, people, and places are everywhere in the story: Deitrich Bonhoeffer and the confessing church, Oberamergau and the Passion Play, Goebbels, and Joseph Mengele to name a few.
My one concern was the part about the American journalist learning to sign from another American and then using that language with Amelie. That journalist would have learned ASL, I assume: but signed languages are diverse, just as spoken languages are. In fact, the sign language used in Great Britain is a different language than American Sign Language. In modern Germany, there are variations in the old East Germany as well as Austrian Sign Language used in the south of Germany. So that one part of the story bothered me a little--it would not have been that easy.
Anyone who appreciates history should enjoy this blend of history and fiction. It could also be a good book for homeschoolers in high school to read while studying World War II. There are many great discussions this book could launch!
I received a free review copy of this book from Tyndale BlogNetwork via NetGalley.