While this memoir's title is a bit sensational, the book itself is far from fluff. Jennifer Teege picked a random book from her library's shelves and began to flip through the pages, an innocent activity most of us do on a regular basis. Teege, however, stumbled upon something far more devastating than I've ever found in a library book. The pages she turned revealed a family history she couldn't have imagined in her worst nightmares; her birth mother's father was none other than the infamous Nazi commandant Amon Goeth, a man whose unspeakable brutality was immortalized in Steven Spielberg's award-winning film Schindler's List. For Teege, a biracial woman in her late 30's, this earth-shattering discovery prompted an endless train of questions. Had her adoptive family known about her heritage when they agreed to take her in at 7 years old? How did her birth family reconcile themselves with the atrocities committed by their loved one? Why did this man affect her life so deeply when he'd died long before her birth? Teege's journey to seek answers creates an accessible, powerful narrative.
Part of what also makes this book so effective is the addition of a journalist's expertise. While Teege provides us with a deeply personal point of view, Nikola Sellmair places this perspective into the larger framework of history. She takes Teege's story to a different level by demonstrating the vast scope of the Holocaust's impacts. Her information helps us understand that Teege's desire for answers is not hers alone; generations of Germans have had to grapple with some of the same issues she faces, and Sellmair's input highlights how far the ripples of trauma can spread. It's easy to say the events of the past should be left there, but this story serves to remind us that history is far more alive than we often realize.
Recommended by Riley Johnson