You won't soon forget this story of family, sacrifice, and the pull of history, set against the backdrop of WWII.
Good to know
Annelise is a dreamer: imagining her future while working at her parents' popular bakery in Feldenheim, Germany, anticipating all the delicious possibilities yet to come. There are rumors that anti-Jewish sentiment is on the rise, but Annelise and her parents can't quite believe that it will affect them; they're hardly religious at all. But as Annelise falls in love, marries, and gives birth to her daughter, the dangers grow closer: a brick thrown through her window; a childhood friend who cuts ties with her; customers refusing to patronize the bakery. Luckily Annelise and her husband are given the chance to leave for America, but they must go without her parents, whose future and safety are uncertain.
Two generations later, in a small Midwestern city, Annelise's granddaughter, Clare, is a young woman newly in love. But when she stumbles upon a trove of her grandmother's letters from Germany, she sees the history of her family's sacrifices in a new light, and suddenly she's faced with an impossible choice: the past, or her future.
Send for Me
It starts with the panic, the sound of sharp knocking. The pounding on Annelise’s door, a crash in her skull, jolting her from sleep. They’re coming. Her heart slams, and she sits up, blind in the darkness. Her arms reach out. Where is the baby? Fear floods her lungs. She’s drowning.
They’re coming. Breathe. Hold the baby close, keep her quiet.
Is there something else in the churning flood of terror? In the squeeze of panic, the slightest slackening, relief? She’s been waiting so long for this moment, dread her constant companion, and now it’s here. Whatever horror is about to befall her, she won’t have to fear it any longer.
In the room, silent now, she strains to hear. Her heart is pounding so hard her body is thrumming, her hands trembling. Is that her husband next to her, snoring softly? Is that the warm, reassuring shape of him? They will take him, too. They’ll take all of it, everything and everyone she has ever loved. In an instant. A flash.
Years will pass, a long, surprising slant of light, and this terror will abate. She will pick her daughter up from school, stand in her kitchen with her hands on her hips, sip from a glass in the evening, slip under smooth sheets. But this will always be her frozen moment, the definition of her days. They will always be pounding on the door in the middle of the night. They will always be coming.
Why I love it
Jenna Bush Hager
Co-host, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna
As year two of #ReadWithJenna quickly comes to an end, many readers have been asking for a historical fiction pick. I searched high and low for a book that was both beautifully written and captured the times, and I think that book is Send For Me by Lauren Fox. I have never read something so poetic and beautiful, that left me wanting so much more. This book felt like a natural choice this month.
Set in pre-WWII Germany and modern day Wisconsin, this novel is a nuanced story about what we will do for our family. Annelise is a young Jewish woman living in Feldenheim, Germany, around the time when anti-Semitic sentiments are on the rise. She has an opportunity to escape to America with her husband and young daughter but in doing so, is forced to leave her parents behind. Two generations later, in a small Midwestern city, Annelise's granddaughter Clare stumbles upon a collection of her grandmother’s letters. The novel moves between the two women’s stories as each must make impossible choices.
I’ve read so many books set in the pre-WWII era, but this one felt really raw and fresh. It captures the emotion of what it feels like to be human. It’s a love story, but is also about all the complications we experience in life from heartbreak to tough choices. Truthful and real, this is a book that completely captures the textures of real life.
Member ratings (4,611)
Cypress , TX
Sometimes I think, do I really need to read another book that revolves around WWII? Then I read it and think, “yes”. This novel was poignant and special and shined a light on it in a different way.
Pacific Grove, CA
As a German immigrant myself, I loved this book so much. It’s beautifully written and spot on. Not everyone will appreciate the book for what it is, but for me it was the right book at the right time.
Simpsonville , SC
Great historical fiction book by Lauren Fox. A story about family, mother and daughter relationships, sacrifices and so much mire. Loved the letters that were added to the book that were the authors
I connected deeply to this novel. To be the children and grandchildren of immigrants is an unique experience and I see myself in Clare. Send for me broke my heart and reinforced the meaning of family.
Touching and heartbreaking at the same time. Snippets of Klara's letters throughout conveyed so much in sometimes so few words. I loved the dynamics of all the women including their inner struggles.