I just realized when I posted my last review that I neglected to write about the book “The Sweetness”, which I read earlier this summer. I feel terrible, because this was such a compelling book, and should be on your to-read list. I think I must have put it aside when it was fresh, hoping to be more objective when I wrote the review, but I find now, thinking about it again, that I am still moved by this story, and hardly objective.
Sande Boritz Berger adds another volume to an already crowded genre, if it can be called that, of World War II books. Her story was not compelling because of its theme, but because of the juxtaposition of two sides of a family, one enjoying the wealth of a relatively stable American market before and even during the war, and the other devastated victims of the ruthless Nazi regime. The American family is a complex, well-defined group, focusing on their Brooklyn-born daughter Mira who is notable, in the context of wartime, for her strong will and sense of entitlement. Despite this she is a sympathetic protagonist, but not entirely. Since we, as readers, see her life in terms of the wider world, her devotion to her career and minor jealousies sometimes pale in comparison to the life her young cousin has been forced to live in Vilna.
So enough summarizing, because I hate to do that. If you want, read the publisher’s blurb, but I would suggest you don’t. The origin of this book’s title is there, but it will have more impact if you read it in the story. Even now thinking of it, that line stops me, and forces me, with its stark command, to put my life in perspective.