From Goodreads: Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses… and then he confesses his darkest secret—he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all—if Sage even considers his request—is it murder, or justice?
I was intrigued by the questions posed by this book, and I got it at the library. It took me a little while to get into this book. There are several characters, and each is presented with a different font, which helps you keep track of who is speaking. It takes some work to sort out who is who, but it is worth it.
I didn’t feel particularly close to Sage, but her struggle with the moral dilemma presented by Josef Weber’s request was believable. Josef was odd. I did not feel any kind of connection to him as he was describing how he became an SS officer. It seemed sterile; I expected a little more feeling from him. Minka’s story was heartbreaking. She is in my opinion by far the strongest character in the book. I devoured the part of the book that talked about her. Leo added a nice touch. There are several minor characters who I don’t think needed to be there. They crowded the book a bit.
The end comes with an interesting twist; some of the story is left open and the moral questions that were addressed still stand when the book finishes. In the end, every person has to answer them for him- or herself.
Finally, I have to just mention that the German sentences in this book had a bunch of mistakes. I wish the editor would have had that proofread.
Based on this book, I will next read the following two:
- The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal (an inspiration for this novel)
- The Diary of a Lost Girl by Margarete Boehme (the book Minka takes with her when she is forced to leave her house)