Monday, February 16, 2009

After the Train

After the Train by Gloria Whelan
Ten years after the end of the Second World War, the town of Rolfen, West Germany, looks just as peaceful and beautiful as ever, until young Peter Liebig discovers a secret about his past that leads him to question everything, including the town's calm facade and his own sense of comfort and belonging. Herr Schafer, a professor in East Germany, now a bricklayer in West Germany, works for Peter's father. Here are thoughts Herr Schafer shares with Peter.

"There are some Jews, Peter, who believe that in every generation there are only thirty-six righteous people in the whole world and no one knows who they are. Without those thirty-six the world could not exist. For myself, I think there are many more..."-pg 76

"...Being Jewish is not a game like checkers with a set of rules. Any Jew, or any Christian for that matter, will tell you we find out a little more about ourselves every day. What we were yesterday we are not today and will not be tomorrow. Don't be in such a hurry, Peter. Let each day teach you something, even if it comes from a mistake. Sometimes mistakes are the biggest lessons of all..."-pg 113

1 comment:

Kirkus Reviews said...

...Reductive morality and characterizations muffle the meaningful core of this post-World War II identity crisis...Sometimes Whelan's first-person narration sounds genuinely like it comes from Peter, other times it sounds instructional. The author does a good job examining Peter's identity and establishing the beautiful symbolism of laying bricks to restore buildings, but she oversimplifies Peter's mother and glosses over both Herr Shafer's losses and Peter's father's architectural-but-military service for the Third Reich.