The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey – 2016

Wish childThe Wish Child is a beautifully written tale of terrible things.  It tells the story of two children living in Germany from the height of Hitler’s power to his demise and beyond.  Erich lives on a farm near Leipzig, he listens to the buzzing of the bees and has the strange feeling that within him is a different person, and he experiences strange glimpsed memories.  Sieglinde lives in Berlin with her siblings and her obsessive mother, and her father who makes a living finely excising dangerous words from documents.  As the lives of the two children deteriorate and finally intersect, we see the ways people adjust to worsening conditions, hanging on to hope, trying not to face reality, knowing and not knowing what is happening around them.  Many of the horrors of the story are just alluded to, knowledge of the Nazi regime giving the reader the ability to fill in the gaps, but others are presented to us unflinchingly.  The narrator of the story is enigmatic, but totally satisfying when revealed at the end.  The Wish Child is one of those books that make you hope that by documenting past evils they will go some way to making sure such things will never happen again – while reminding you that unfortunately they probably will.  A highly recommended read.

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