Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Pub. Date: April 23, 2019
Though I found “Wunderland” to be a letdown, this may be my own fault. The author, Jennifer Cody Epstein, has written for BC, HBO, and The Wall Street Journal, among other prestigious journals. Because of her credentials, maybe I was expecting something unusually good and/or different. Or, possibly my disappointment may be because historical fiction is my favorite genre. I may have simply read one too many WWII stories revolving around the Hitler Youth movement. Nevertheless, surprisingly, I did not feel the empathy and rage that I should have when the persecution of the German Jews began in this novel.
The story goes back and forth in time from 1933 to 1989. In 1933, we are in Berlin and meet two preteen and then teenage female best friends. In 1986, we are in the East Village and we meet the grown daughter of one of the Berlin friends who is estranged from her mother. The daughter has no idea who her father is and her mother is still mum on the subject. There is some suspense as to her paternal parentage. Could she be the daughter of a nameless Nazi? Was her mom part of the breeding program wherein German women were impregnated to produce children of alleged Aryan purity? Unfortunately, the writing is underwhelming, making the reader not invested in the question. I do believe that Cody Epstein does a good job in catching the dynamics of female teenage friendships (competition for a boy’s interest) as well as mother/daughter relationships (always knowing how to push each other’s buttons). But, this insight into relations is not enough to hold the reader’s interest long enough to care about the characters.
I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
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