Author: Anna Funder
Published: February 27, 2012
Genre: historical fiction
Paperback: 363 pages
Source: received from the publisher
My Rating: 3 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): When eighteen-year-old Ruth Becker visits her cousin Dora in Munich in 1923, she meets the love of her life, the dashing young journalist Hans Wesemann, and eagerly joins in the heady activities of the militant political Left in Germany. Ten years later, Ruth and Hans are married and living in Weimar Berlin when Hitler is elected chancellor of Germany. Together with Dora and her lover, Ernst Toller, the celebrated poet and self-doubting revolutionary, the four become hunted outlaws overnight and are forced to flee to London. Inspired by the fearless Dora to breathtaking acts of courage, the friends risk betrayal and deceit as they dedicate themselves to a dangerous mission: to inform the British government of the very real Nazi threat to which it remains willfully blind. All That I Am is the heartbreaking story of these extraordinary people, who discover that Hitler’s reach extends much further than they had thought.
Gripping, compassionate, and inspiring, this remarkable debut novel reveals an uncommon depth of humanity and wisdom. Anna Funder has given us a searing and intimate portrait of courage and its price, of desire and ambition, and of the devastating consequences when they are thwarted.
My Thoughts: If you know me, you know how much a enjoy a good World War II novel. I love that time in history when people all over the world were committed to defeating evil and using whatever resources they had to do so. All That I Am is a perfect illustration of how people were using whatever means they had to try and thwart the Nazi regime that was gaining power in Germany. Taking place before the actual war breaks out, Anna Funder introduces us to characters who hated the direction that Germany was headed and tried everything in their means to stop it from happening, even though they were sometimes a great distance away from the action.
The characters in this book are well thought out and unique, with everyone contributing something to the cause. To me, the person who stood out as the main character was Ruth. Her chapters are the most interesting and the ones that shed the most light on the day-to-day actions of the group. Dora is also interesting, and she probably could have narrated her own book on what all she was doing. She was heavily involved in the effort to stop the Nazi regime, but you had little idea of what she was actually doing. The other thing that I really loved about this book was the writing. Funder has such a way with words that it makes you pause to think for awhile. My favorite quote from the book was this:
"When you are in love with someone you cannot see around them, you cannot get their human measure. You cannot see how someone so huge to you, so miraculous and unfathomable, can fit, complete, into that small skin." (150)
The book is filled with little gems like this that make you sit and smile or frown, depending on the emotion that Funder wants you to have at that moment.
Now, there were somethings that I didn't like about this novel. The way that the chapters are presented as confusing at first and really jarred me. They alternate between Ruth and Toller (the famous playwright), but they are told in different time periods. So it would take some adjusting to get used to not only who was speaking, but if you are in the 1930s or present day. I also thought that the beginning of the novel was a little drawn out and it took about 100 pages to really get into the novel.
If you enjoy WWII novels or are looking for something that will make you think, then I would recommend that you check this book out. This is Funder's first novel and it's amazing how well she can craft sentences that just reach out and touch you.
** This is novel is participating in a TLC Book Tour. I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Please make sure to check out TLC Book Tours to see others who are hosting this book.**