Tuesday 1 November 2022

Review - All The Broken Places by John Boyne

All The Broken Plances
Release date: 15 September 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Back cover blurb: Ninety-one-year-old Gretel Fernsby has lived in the same mansion block in London for decades. She leads a comfortable, quiet life, despite her dark and disturbing past. She doesn't talk about her escape from Germany over seventy years before. She doesn't talk about the post-war years in France with her mother. Most of all, she doesn't talk about her father, the commandant of one of the most notorious Nazi concentration camps. Then, a young family moves into the apartment below her. In spite of herself, Gretel can't help but begin a friendship with the little boy, Henry, though his presence brings back memories she would rather forget. One night, she witnesses a violent argument between Henry's mother and his domineering father, one that threatens Gretel's hard-won, self-contained existence. Gretel is faced with a chance to expiate her guilt, grief and remorse and act to save a young boy - for the second time in her life. But to do so, she will be forced to reveal her true identity to the world. Will she make a different choice this time, whatever the cost to herself?

Gretel is Ninety-One years old, Widowed living in London where she has lived for most over Seventy years. She fled Germany with her Mother in the aftermath of WW2 to France, and from there she went to Australia, until a chance meeting with an old acquaintance sent her travelling again, where she settled in the UK.

Having lived with the guilt of her family’s past since she was 12 years old, she has fought hard to live a normal life. At times this has been almost impossible. As the truth of the Nazi regime came to light, and the appetite to punish those involved grows stronger, there are moments when she fears for her life. 

There are other moments when her own thoughts become so troubled that she no longer wishes to live.

When a young boy moves into Gretel's apartment block with his family, Gretel is transported back in time. Not only does he bear more than a passing resemblance to her deceased brother, it is apparent that he is suffering and she cannot do anything to help him.

Or can she?

Gretel must decide this time whether it would be better to intervene in something that she thinks is none of her business, or face the consequences if something terrible were to happen.

Is she trying to make up for the past, or just looking to secure the boys future?

If you haven’t read the boy in the striped pajamas it isn’t a necessity. However I would recommend it - although it is very different in writing style to this.

All The Broken Places is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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