Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review of Across Great Divides by Monique Roy

Roy, M. (2013).  Across Great Divides.

Across Great Divides by Monique Roy is a featured novel in a Closed the Cover blog tour and is also a part of a Rafflecopter giveaway (see bottom of this post). This novel spans three continents during the World War II era, starting in Berlin, Germany as notorious dictator Adolf Hitler begins his rise to power, and was inspired by the author's grandparents, Jews who fled his regime.

Eva and Inge are beautiful, identical twins living idyllic lives as teenagers in Berlin.  They are the daughters of Oskar, a master jeweler and Helene, the elegant matriarch who holds her family together with a quiet, dignified strength.  Eva's best friend Trudy is an integral part of their lives, even eating with the family during the Shabbat-the weekly Sabbath meal, even though she is not Jewish.  Things quickly take a turn for the worst, however, when Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany and begins his reign of terror against the Jews.  Trudy is forbidden by her family to associate with the twins and eventually becomes a part of the Nazi Youth program.  The twins' younger brother Max, becomes actively involved with a Jewish underground resistance group, against their parents' wishes.  Max urges his family to flee the country but Oskar, like many Jews of the time, resists.  However, after the terrifying events of Kristallnacht in which Jewish shops and synagogues are vandalized and destroyed, Oskar finally realizes that his family is not safe in Germany anymore.  Forced to sell his business, he manages to hide some precious diamonds but is unable to keep a beautiful, very expensive emerald necklace from being confiscated by the Nazis.  Ironically, Max's underground connections are able to secure the necessary visas for the family to flee to Antwerp, Belgium.  During their flight, they are joined by a young refugee named Isaac, who quickly falls in love with and marries Inge. While in Antwerp, Eva also falls in love, with a young man named Carmen. The war quickly spreads to Belgium and they are forced to flee again, this time to Rio de Janeiro, and finally to South Africa.  Carmen and Oskar establish themselves in the growing diamond industry in the country, Max enrolls in university, and the twins live as homemakers.  However, the ugly stain of discrimination once again rears its head, this time in the form of apartheid, which affects Eva's maid and brings back horrible memories of their experiences as Jews in Nazi Germany.   Throughout their travels and experiences, the emerald necklace continues to play a part in their lives through the people that they meet, keeping them connected "across great divides".

Monique Roy has a degree in Journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is the author of a children's book called Once Upon a Time in Venice.  Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she was inspired to write Across Great Divides by her grandparents, European Jews who fled the Nazi regime. To find out more about Ms. Roy, read the author Q & A on the Author Interviews page of this blog.

Across Great Divides handles an often-told narrative in a unique way.  While the story does begin in Berlin and includes experiences of discrimination that the family faces as Jews, the bulk of the plot is centered around their flight to different continents and their interactions with one another. Ms. Roy does a great job of quietly drawing comparisons between the Holocaust and the South African system of apartheid by showing the human impact of those who suffered under these regimes, as well as showing the irony of Oskar and Helene's acceptance of the apartheid system despite the discrimination that they themselves faced.  Across Great Divides a briskly paced,  brightly detailed story of love, family, survival against overwhelming odds, and the struggle to maintain hope even in the most dire of circumstances.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of the novel:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No comments:

Post a Comment