What an amazing collection of varied genres, styles, authors and characters, and a great introduction to talented writers. So far, my favorites are Uvi Poznansky’s Rise to Power (biblical fiction), Brandt Legg’s Outview (science fiction/fantasy), and The Luck of the Weissensteiners by Christoph Fischer (historical fiction).
Uvi Poznasky’s “Rise to Power” is an adaptation of a familiar story from the Old Testament is unique and feels very modern. From the very first line of the prologue, the story drew me in, partly because of the masterful use of the first person by the author, and partly because of her engaging writing style. The scene of King David as a prisoner trying to escape and tell his story to liberate his soul is compelling and highly readable.And then the story gets even better. It has crisp and engaging dialogue, well-drawn characters and a unique plot. It was interesting for me to see the events from King David’s perspective and trace his journey from childhood to maturity and right into today’s time, making the story relevant and engaging for today’s readers. In this story, King David is not a mythical hero – he comes across as a real person, imperfect, flawed, and experiencing conflicting emotions – and that makes him so much more relatable, and his story – so much more compelling.
“Outview” by Brandt Legg makes the readers think about many philosophical concepts but presents them in a very accessible way. One such concept is that of awareness.The author Brandt Legg makes us question our own lives and consider how aware we really are of our surroundings, of others, and of ourselves – and that’s a great issue to ponder for a person of any age, teenagers included. Many ideas in this book and the eloquent way that the author expresses them feel like pearls of ancient wisdom in the modern world, and that’s incredibly appealing.Here’s just one such idea (out of many more that I loved): “The unseen world is enormously deeper and much more exciting than the human world, but when the two were combined it was a million times more fascinating.” This idea reminded me of the Little Prince, a character of one of my favorite childhood books by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who said that “eyes are blind. You have to look with your heart.” And isn’t that a great lesson for all of us, teenagers or not.
Christoph Fischer’s “The Luck of th Weissensteiners” is a beautifully told story filled with allegories and symbolism. At one point, Greta and Wilhelm are considering getting forged passports from a communist and a former customer of Wilhelm's bookshop. A passing phrase, "we know a lot about people by the kind of books they buy" immediately made me think of the power of books, a theme that runs strongly throughout this novel, and Hitler's multiple agencies that diligently worked at blacklisting, banning, and eliminating anything that could be construed as "un-German." Banning books and limiting information access - a terrifying but still very much present concept in today's world.
The author's portrayal of Greta as a "pawn in a political chess game" as she is trying to fit in but failing, feels very real. In Greta's case, with her Jewish background but lack of Jewish religion, a blond son, and a German husband, she just doesn't belong with either Jews or Germans. Nowhere seems safe for her in war-ravaged Europe. Greta's plight feels so real, I couldn't help but wonder if it's the author's own "ambiguous sense of belonging" in Bavaria (he was born in Germany from a mixed heritage marriage) shaped his understanding and emotional connection to Greta.