Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alex's Review - Far to Go

It was with some misgiving that I began reading Far to Go.

Here are my shameful thoughts presented to you in all honesty..."Not another book about the Holocaust...How many do I have to read?" My Jiminy Cricket conscience tells me - "Never enough". After all, I only have to read the stories, don't I? And perhaps it might be a good idea to tell them to my children - even though they are well beyond bedtime stories. And this is not the stuff of bedtime stories.

Do you wonder, as I do, how memories/history will change once our slim connection with the past evaporates? As the generation before you dies and you are pushed to the front line? What orders should you give ? What philosophy should you bequeath to the next generation?

My children perceive me as ancient, of course. The way I perceived my mother as ancient. The 1940s to my young eyes were so funny and old-fashioned in terms of dress and hopelessly romantic love songs (think "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when"). And yet they were only 30 years ago when I was a teenager. Now my kids are close to 20. It's hard to imagine that they must see the 1970s as funny and old fashioned. What must they think of WWII and the Nazi atrocities? It must seem very far away and hard to believe.

And so, yes. Reading Far to Go wasn't easy - and yes, to a degree, we all know how it will end. But I didn't know about the Kindertransport. So it is a story from a different angle. And the angle is further fractured and complicated by the author's own connection to the tragedy which she chooses to present at this point in time in a fictionalised form.

It is a story about making difficult decisions. About trying to read "history" as it happens. About deciding what to pack. About sacrifice.

It is ultimately a story about identity. And what is identity but a jumbled up mass of stories that people have told you about yourself or you have told you about yourself. What if someone questions your identity? What if your identity becomes dangerous to own? What if you thought you were something and then you are told years later that in fact you are something else? How does that change you? Which bit of you is real?

It is a good story. And one that leaves many questions. The best kind really.

No comments:

Post a Comment