Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: "My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi Past" by Jennifer Teegee

Everyone's got skeletons in their familial closet. Jennifer Teege's are worse than the normal. 

Jennifer was adopted as a young girl of about 7. Her father was Nigerian, her mother was German and she lived with her new family in Munich. Jennifer had fond memories of her loving, accepting Grandma, but less good memories of her mother, who had married an abusive man and always made it seem that Jennifer was a nuisance on her short visits.

Her childhood was mostly good, her parents were loving and she was close with her brothers but she often felt like an outsider due to her skin color. Jennifer grew up, got married, had kids and life was going well until a trip to the library one day. By pure coincidence (if one believes in such things) she picked up a book on the shelf and began to flip through the pages...she recognized some of the people in the pictures, they were her mother and her grandmother... She flips to the front of the book and sees that the author is her mother and that the book is all about how her father was the commandant of the concentration camp portrayed in Schindler's List. He was Amon Goeth. Jennifer almost has a complete breakdown.(This would be hard news for anyone to take but someone with already a history of depression like Jennifer it's even worse). She is confronted with about a bazilion questions:

Did my adopted parents know and not tell me? Why did my biological mother and grandma never tell me? How could my grandmother be so hopelessly devoted to Goeth, even after his execution? Does this make ME bad? How can I face my Jewish friends?

I have mixed feelings about this book. I think it's interesting and unique and I can't imagine Jennifer's shock. I think that she does NOT give her adoptive parents a fair shake at all. After she finds out about her biological family she pulls away from them really hard which I don't understand. The writing is a little strangely tilted at spots but I think that might be more of a translation issue than anything else. I give this book a right on the nose 3 out of 5 stars.


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