Yesterday morning, I told Utah Dad, "if you read one single book that I suggest to this year, read All That I Am."
All That I Am by Anna Funder is a novel based on the true story of small group of friends and political activists who must flee their native Germany as Hitler gains power in the 1930s but who continue to fight against the Reich from their exile in London. They would spend years in prison, give their lives or even their very souls during this harrowing and dangerous attempt to stop a madman by exposing his abuses to the naive world.
I was engrossed in this novel. It was terrifying to be reminded once again of the long and deadly reach of the Nazi Party as Hitler seizes power and reigns with terror. It was helpful to have recently read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (read my review **here**) so that I already had a familiarity with events such as the Night of the Long Knives or Röhm-Putsch--the night Hitler and the Nazis staged a crime to give them an excuse to murder hundreds of political opponents and critics. While All That I Am does an amazing job of bringing the very real human fear surrounding these events and others, I was grateful that I already had some background to place the story.
Anna Funder has an amazing ability to take her research regarding these very brave and real people and give them character on the pages. Her characters are strong, yet have very real human flaws. Toller's depression is intense and at the same time utterly and tragically believable. Though it plays only a small part in the theme of the story, Funder's details of Ruth's struggle with aging are ever so respectful and compassionate as she reminds the reader that the elderly have stories and value. I was very moved by Funder's work.
This novel is as gripping and intriguing as any spy novel but is so much more interesting because it is essentially true. Funder is an incredible writer and she successfully breathes life into a story that has waited too long to be told.
** I received a complimentary copy of All That I Am in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.