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Book Review

Book Review: Another World War II Novel? That's Right, And You'll Want To Read 'Send For Me'


You might be asking yourself, “How many novels about World War II does a person really need to read?” And the answer is: at least one more.

Lauren Fox’s newest novel, Send for Me, is a quiet, heartbreaking, intergenerational story that highlights the insidious racism against Jews in World War II and the lingering effects of family trauma. The novel begins with a terrifying knock on the door, a crying baby, a squeeze of panic. We learn quickly that it’s a dream, but one that will haunt Annelise for a lifetime:

“Years will pass, a long, surprising slant of light, and this terror will abate,” Fox writes. “... But this will always be her frozen moment, the definition of her days.”

The novel is historical fiction imbued with snippets of actual letters, which Fox says in the author’s note are excerpts from her great-grandmother’s correspondence during the war. In the novel, Annelise’s granddaughter, Clare, discovers a cache of letters and has them translated, and she begins to make connections and unspool generations of love, courage and loyalty that define the women in her family. Fox’s writing is so deft, the story so subtle and sad, flipping seamlessly from World War II Germany to modern-day Milwaukee. It doesn’t put you smack dab in the center of Nazi violence or concentration camp nightmares, but flits around the edges of that brutal history to tell a new, altogether different tale—a story of lucky ones who escaped, and the guilt that haunts them.

Send for Me is a richly imagined, lyrically written story that belongs among novels such as The Book Thief and All the Light We Cannot See. The year is still young, but I’ll guarantee this will be on my list of favorites from 2021.