cover image News of Our Loved Ones

News of Our Loved Ones

Abigail DeWitt. Harper, $25.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06-283472-0

DeWitt (Lili) explores how the American invasion of Normandy changes the destiny of one family in this moving tale of sorrow reverberating across generations. During four years of Nazi occupation, when the people of Caen were forced to choose dangerous resistance or shameful cooperation, the Delasalles have survived by keeping a low profile as their Jewish neighbors are arrested or sent to death camps. Sixteen-year-old Yvonne sees out the war in Caen with her family, but her younger sister, Genevieve, has been sent to Paris to live with her aunt in order to try out for the music conservatory. When the Allies are on the brink of liberating France, Yvonne and her mother and grandmother are all killed in an air strike. Black sheep Genevieve leaves her descendants a legacy of half-truths and blank spots about the family. Tracking backward in time, the book alternates chapters among the Delasalles, exploring their lives leading up to the war. Later sections feature other voices, including future generations of the Delasalle family struggling to uncover the past and deal with the remaining trauma of a family broken by war. DeWitt switches between the occupation and the postwar period with mixed effect. She writes in spare prose and has a knack for lovely turns of phrase (“Mathilde herself is my only clear memory of Paris”), but the separate sections rarely feel distinct in their voices. Still, this is an effective and affecting tale of wartime loss and the way that weight of sorrow is held through generations. [em](Oct.) [/em]