Jorge Fernandez

Book: La Niña Alemana/ The German Girl: A Novel

Author: Armando Lucas Correa, 2016

Reviewed by: Jorge Fernandez, vice president of Global Commerce at the Metro Atlanta Chamber

You are my witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10,11) frames the first page of this book – a very appropriate selection for what unfolded between the months of May and June 1939.  

The German Girl is presented to the reader in chapters using an alternating timeline between 1939 to 2014, as well as alternating settings ranging from Hitler’s pre-WWII Berlin, to present day New York City and Havana, Cuba. The author utilizes this captivating methodology as he presents a historical novel following the saga of 900 German Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939 aboard the tragedy-stricken Hamburg-America liner MS St. Louis.  

Notwithstanding the fictional characters, this novel is rich with facts and stories of real people aboard the St. Louis, whose Captain attempted to find a home for his desperate passengers during volatile times. The storyline also alternates between the narration of two 9-year-old girls: Hanna, growing up in Berlin and her journey and arrival in Havana on board the St Louis; and Anna, growing up in New York City trying to connect the dots between her Dad, a victim of the 9/11 Twin Towers attacks and her aunt, relegated to live in Castro’s Havana.

This is a story full of family complexities, tragedy and bigotry that exists even today.  This novel has been translated into several languages. I opted for the original Spanish edition.