Daniela Krien’s Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything (Review and Giveaway)

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“A love story of extraordinary intensity.” That is the quote on the front cover of my edition of Daniela Krien’s Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything (Irgendwann Werden Wir Uns Alles Erzählen). I don’t much agree with that. Yes, there is a love story, and it might be somewhat unusual in that it involves a 16-year-old girl, Maria, and a 40-year-old man, Henner. But I didn’t find it particularly intense. If it were nothing but this love story, I would shelf this maybe as YA and be more or less done with it. But thankfully, there is much more to this book, and I ended up really enjoying it.

First, the prose is wonderful. It is sparse, but lyrical. I loved Krien’s descriptions of nature, life on a farm, and the attention to little details that are often overlooked. Overall, it reads very smoothly in German, and thanks to the translation by Jamie Bulloch, it reads very well in English, too.

Second, the story is set in 1990, between the fall of the Wall and the reunification of Germany. Maria’s affair with Henner is set against the very unique feelings and events that came with this particular time in German history. I found it fascinating to read about them from an East German perspective.

In the summer of 1990, I was a few years younger than Maria, living in West Germany. We recognized tourists who had come from the East, and I know we stared. How did they make the drive in those odd-looking cars that adults joked were made out of cardboard? How could they be so fascinated by ordinary produce like bananas and oranges? Why would they spend their welcome money on brand-name sneakers? When reunification approached, I heard my parents discuss skeptically how the country could possibly pay for bringing the East up to Western standards—just think of all those cobblestone roads! (This was something that was definitely not much discussed by politicians at the time.)

Maria told me about her feelings from the opposite viewpoint: how uncomfortable she was on her few short trips to the West where people were staring at her; how bewildering it was to suddenly have such a variety of things to purchase; and how uncertain many people felt with their country suddenly ceasing to exist and their ways of doing things threatened by Western standards.

Even though I was not entirely convinced by Maria and Henner’s love story, I did appreciate Maria’s character. She is a young person trying to find her way, the uncertainty everyone feels at that age further heightened by all the options suddenly available to her. I read about her with a little bit of nostalgia for my own 16-year-old self. And the story certainly ended with a bang that I did not see coming.

If you’d like to find out about that end and you live in the United States, let me know in the comments. I will give away my English edition to one lucky reader, since this book deserves a wider audience.

Many thanks to Lizzie for reading along with me this month. Her review is here. The book has also been reviewed by Jacqui (her review) and Caroline (her review).

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14 comments

  1. I don’t know how I managed this, but despite you doing this project, I hadn’t realized that you’d lived in Germany. It sounds fascinating to get a different perspective on events you experienced! The age difference in this romance creeps me out a little, but the rest of the story sounds interesting.

  2. First reaction: I haven’t read many German fiction books. This looks interesting!
    Second thought: “Wait, she’s 16 and he’s 40?!” lol

    Good review! I would love to see how this ends and am in the US. I’m new to book blogging and have been loving meeting fellow book lovers 🙂

    http://www.quiteanovelidea.com

  3. Thanks for the link, TJ. It’s so interesting to read your thoughts on this one, especially your comments on the dynamic between the East and West at the time. I can recall there being a feeling of change in light of the reunification, some new opportunities on the horizon but uncertainties/risks too. I must admit to finding Maria’s relationship with Henner quite intense at times, especially when they were together in his farmhouse! Have you read anything else by Krien? (I seem to remember Caroline mentioning a collection of short stories.)

    • I was glad to read in your review that you liked the book. I didn’t get a good feeling for what she saw in him, other than the fact that he was more mature than her boyfriend. So the marketing of the book as a love story didn’t quite work for me. But it’s good to know that you disagree! Krien did write a second book late in 2014, but I haven’t read it and it hasn’t been translated into English, as far as I can see. I might ask my mom to bring a copy when she comes to visit later this year. She can read it during the flight, and then I instantly have someone with whom to talk about it. 🙂

  4. Hearing your perspective of the historical aspect of the novel is interesting, as someone who has never been there before or after the wall coming down. (Is 1990 really considered historical? Oh dear…)
    You say you are unconvinced by the affair part of the book – is it the age difference (and the fact that she’s so young), or something else?

    • I just didn’t feel the attraction between the two very much. I sometimes got the impression that part of her fascination had more to do with the fact that he was so much more mature than her boyfriend, who is only a year older than her. And because I didn’t sense the great love between them, it bothered me a bit that the book is marketed as a story about a great love. I would love to see it advertised as a “Wenderoman,” a book about the time of reunification. But as you might have seen from Jacqui’s comment and review, she disagrees. So maybe it’s just me.
      When I wrote the review, I realized just how long ago reunification happened. So I can only second your “Oh Dear”!

  5. I remember that I really liked reading about the reunification from a East German perspective and the writing too but I’ve almost forgotten the actual story.

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