Review: Children and Fire

Children and Fire
Children and Fire by Ursula Hegi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Children and Fire is a beautifully written story that ties in very well with Ursula Hegi’s other Burgdorf series. Hegi has such a masterful grip on the ability to give voice to inner thought life of each and every one of her characters that it’s mesmerizing. She gives words to emotions and experiences that can seem to sacred or painful for spoken language to suffice…”God’s will” she had been consoled three times, “while she dreamed of strangling God. Three times she imagined yanking God from His throne in his heaven, one for each child pulled dead from her womb…until she had Bruno. It would have been foolish to provoke God.” The raw angst of losing a pregnancy, missing your best friend that is right across town yet unaccessible, of feeling guilty for having while others do not have…

The story is revalatory about how, on a given day, siginificant pieces of our lives can be unexpectedly visited upon our minds and consciousness. Tekla, a teacher of fourth grade boys during the Hitler era is at a time of self actualization. However, the pressures of an impending sense of doom combined with reflections that cause her to question her own history, seriously interfere with that process. She is constantly faced with choices, large and small, that force her to compromise her morals “for the greater good”. This is all happening as it is becoming increasingly clear to her that “the greater good” is a pack of dangerous and damning lies from Hitler that have insidiously made their way between parents and children, right down to how to interact at a simple meal. Truly a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” wrestling match every day.

That being said, I cheated and listened to an audiobook version as well, and Ursula Hegi narrated herself. Her voice, pitch, timbre, pace and accent were PERFECT for this book.

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