Synopsis: This coming-of-age story follows Jozef Diederich as he grows up in post-World War Two Germany. As he studies history in school, he uncovers secrets about the involvement of his own family during the war. Consecutively, his parents attempt to come to terms with their actions.
Probing one of the darkest corners of human history is never going to be pleasant, not even when set in fiction.
Author Glenn Bryant attempts to bring to light some of the lesser-known evils committed during World War 2 and the effects of the war on the generation which grew up in its shadow. Jozef starts out as any other schoolboy, and his parents equally generic. As the story progresses, his personal identity begins to blur and questions regarding his parents’ actions during the war surface. Ultimately, this brings to light the existence of a Nazi-run hospital called Hadamar, where more than 10,000 disabled children were murdered during World War Two.
Like many novels about World War Two, A Quiet Genocide is more didactic than entertaining. Unfortunately, this takes a toll on the reader after a while: we sit with Jozef in history classes and listen to lectures on Hitler, becoming distracted from the seriousness of the subject as Jozef allows his mind to wander to other things such as soccer and the girls in his class. Jozef obviously learns from these lectures as he does exceptionally well in school, especially once he gets to university. I, on the other hand, would have liked to see more personal development in Jozef as he digested the information from his lectures and interviews with his professor.
On its surface, the story is not to my taste but an acceptable catalyst for analyzing lesser-known facts from World War Two, specifically the Nazi’s campaign to exterminate all disabled persons from the German population. The plot is not terribly interesting, but forgivable in a first-time author. I am left with no strong feelings for or against this book; it is a good attempt at taking part in the global conversation about World War Two through fiction, but the story is somewhat lacking and the elements of historical analysis and examination of the human condition are stated somewhat bluntly, without much ability to really engage with the protagonist or reader.
If you’re interested in checking out A Quiet Genocide by Glenn Bryant for yourself, look for it to release on August 22nd from Amsterdam Publishers. You can read more about it on Goodreads here or on Amazon here.
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.