Author: Marianne Kaurin
Publisher: January 3rd 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction, YA, WWII
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Everything starts this autumn.
It’s October 1942, in Oslo, Norway. Fifteen-year-old Ilse Stern is waiting to meet boy-next-door Hermann Rod for their first date. She was beginning to think he’d never ask her; she’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember.
But Hermann won’t be able to make it tonight. What Ilse doesn’t know is that Hermann is secretly working in the Resistance, helping Norwegian Jews flee the country to escape the Nazis. The work is exhausting and unpredictable, full of late nights and code words and lies to Hermann’s parents, to his boss…to Ilse.
And as life under German occupation becomes even more difficult, particularly for Jewish families like the Sterns, the choices made become more important by the hour: To speak up or to look away? To stay or to flee? To act now or wait one more day?
We carry on. We risk our lives, but damn it we carry on regardless."
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Almost Autumn is told from three different perspectives:
We have Ilse the main character who has all of these dreams about love and what she wanted to be when she grew up. Those dreams of hers weren't ones that her family shared though, and because of that she ends up fighting with her family a lot.
Then we have Sonja who is Ilse older almost perfect at times sister. These two used to be close, but as Sonja has gotten older and started helping out more they've drifted apart.
The final perspective we get to see is Hermann who is the neighbor boy that Ilse is in love with, yet can't seem to get a date with him. This is because he is in the Resistance and is either working all the time, or having to hide so he doesn't get caught.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It is a rather slow book compared to a lot of YA books during WWII. I'm not saying that the slowness was a bad thing, but at times I did find myself wondering if it was going to pick up once it reached a certain point. Isle is a really normal character not only for her age group, but in how she reacts what is going on around her and the very real fear that was going on at that point in time.
Sonja is the type of person we all would hope to be in this type of situation. She helps out her parents, finds work to help make ends meet, keeps the peace between her siblings and parents. She is in almost all respects the perfect daughter it seems. Sadly though we don't really get to know her much as she was just a side perspective to see more of what was happening in their town/family.
Hermann is in the resistance making papers, and helping jews from his town escape to freedom. Its a risky job, and one that he keeps hidden even from his parents. We do get to know quite a bit about him and what he does and how he keeps it hidden, which I found all to be very interesting.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book, is the feeling of community that was in the apartment building between tenants and how you could feel it all change once the war came to their town. It was heartbreaking to read, but a story that needed to be told.
As this was written by a Nordic author it did have to be translated to English I believe, which means you can tell at certain times that things were a little confusing when it came to the translation.