5 out of 5 stars
Share This Review
How High the Larks Fly is a biography of Ruthchen Lindenau, written by Christine Hamer-Hodges. The book provides a detailed account of Ruth Lindenau's struggles during and after World War II. Born in 1929, she lived a happy life with her family in Tiegenort, a picturesque village in West Prussia. Ruth was a gifted student and enjoyed exploring the village with her friend Brigitte. She was passionate about horseback riding and playing the piano. Her ultimate dream was to perform in front of a large audience.
Her academic accomplishments earned her a scholarship to a special school. Despite their sadness at having to send their daughter away, the family felt honored at the amazing opportunity Ruth held and bid her farewell. As soon as she arrived in Munster Walde, she discovered the special school was nothing more than a prison camp, and she was one of sixty-five girls to be brainwashed under Hitler's Third Reich. They were starved, denied any family contact or affection, and punished for the smallest of offenses, such as inquiring when they would be permitted to visit or write to their parents. Standing in frigid temperatures with barely any clothes, food, or water was a common punishment. Munster Walde's perilous life and experiences shaped her personality and reinforced her courage and character.
It is a story of courage and endurance, as she survives not just Munster Walde but also two additional prison camps. The author's writing style walks you through every emotion. I am amazed at how a little innocent 13-year-old girl could evaluate every situation, muster the courage to challenge her instructors, and even hatch an escape plan, knowing that being caught could mean death. I like her enthusiasm for the piano and singing lessons.
Be it the innocent joys of the times spent with Brigitte, earning the slice of wurst (German sausage) by selling the violets, dealing with feelings and emotions related to coming of age, or heartbreaking decisions related to Lukas Baumann, Commander Andersson, and Karl, the author beautifully demonstrates that she never lacked character and was always honest. She could assess her surroundings, think rationally, and successfully employ the available methods to overcome any obstacle. The parallel stories about her parents Fritz and Augusta and their extended families, her sister Gertrude, and her fast friend Ingrid Wenzel will also keep you thoroughly engaged. There was not a moment when I felt I could leave the book. The final episode, though painful, speaks volumes about her character.
There is nothing negative I can say about this book. The author has done justice to Ruth's life. She has told the narrative with all the intensity that the scene requires. Every narrative comes alive as you read through it. You will experience Ruth's pain, fear, insecurities, and courage. There were a few inaccuracies that did not distract me as a reader and hence do not deserve any drop in the ratings. I'd like to point out that the editor did a decent job. Ruth's strength and courage, as well as the beautifully delivered story, deserve a flawless rating of 5 out of 5 stars.
Certain sections describe content that is considered appropriate for a mature audience only. Hence, I would recommend this book to mature readers who wish to read a wartime memoir to understand the difficulties and triumphs of the time.
How High the Larks Fly
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon