First I’d have to say, the cover of this book is interesting and it definitely suits the book. I really do like the red on black however that’s not what really got me into the book. I was surfing on Amazon for random books I might find that I would like and stumbled across this one. It peaked my interest and I decided to take it out from the library.
Dark Hours by Gudrun Pausewang, is a grandmother’s account of her life when she just turns sixteen to her young granddaughter who has just turned at that age. It takes place towards the end of World War II and features a girl named Gisel who, with her three brothers and Grandmother, had to leave their home to go towards Dresden as their town is about to be approached by the Russians. However while at a train station, air raid sirens hit, and in the mass confusion Gisel with her siblings (and a small girl named Lotte whom she meets at the station) they run towards a shelter, which then gets hit by bombs. Gisel is stuck there with a small amount of food and not much water and until they get rescued they have each other and a soldier on the other side of the wall whom they talk to through a pipe.
Sometimes with these kinds of books (where the characters are placed in a dire situation with no hope of getting out except by rescue) I get this sudden urge to just turn to the back of the book to see what happens (if they do get rescued or not) but I really tried not to do it with this book. I managed to resist temptation and wait it through until the end. I got myself hoping with Gisel that they will be rescued even though the situation looks extremely bleak.
The story is told in Gisel’s point of view and it’s an interesting one. She tells you how her life was when the war was going good for Germany and then how it started turning against them, you can feel her bitterness towards the war. Actually, you can feel it towards everybody in this book as now since the tide has turned, frequent visits to the air raid shelters are all over Germany, and talk against Hitler and the German government is also starting to rise. The idea of leaving all that she loved behind and having to take care of all her siblings (all younger than her) just enhances her bitterness towards the war. However throughout the book I admire Gisel’s strength and courage when they were stuck beneath the rubble waiting to be rescued. She does get impatient several times as any other older sibling would do when they’re stuck with their younger ones (Gisel especially gets annoyed with Lotte who’s a spoiled brat). I think it adds realism to her character and rounds her out very well.
I think her courage stemmed off from her brother Erwin who is a few years younger but acts very mature and helps Gisel when needed. I liked him as he provided the extra strength she needed to keep being positive and to survive. The other part is the solder who is also stuck underneath the rubble but is able to communicate to them with a pipe (he was on the other side of the wall). He provides Gisel with advice and also advises her to make as much noise as possible in the hopes of being heard and rescued quickly.
What I liked most about the book is Gisel’s ability to pull everybody together and to maintain a positive outlook while in times of duress. For someone who has barely just turned sixteen, she ages and matures quickly and you can actually hear her voice growing “older”.
There is no real plot in this book which may be a deterrent to some readers. The majority of the book takes place underneath the rubble and all you really read are Gisel’s thoughts. It may or may not draw readers in, so perhaps I would only recommend this book for World War II buffs. Otherwise, for those who aren’t, it certainly is worth a try. It’s a little over 200 pages so it should be a breeze for the majority of readers out there.
Overall an interesting account of someone who is on “the other side” of war. Albeit, with no real plot it’s certainly worth a look see.
I give it a 6 out of 10.