Book Review: Paper Love by Sarah Wildman
Recently I finished reading the book Paper Love by Sarah Wildman. Over the last few years, I’ve read more books on World War II than I can count, and I have to say, this was one of the best.
The author recounts her quest to learn about Valy — Valerie — the “true love” her grandfather had to leave behind when he fled Europe. A cache of Valy’s letters had been hidden in her grandfather’s belongings, and the author used clues from these letters to try to uncover information about Valy’s fate. Along the way she discovers Valy’s desperate attempts to secure passage out of Germany; attempts that were thwarted at every step.
The author outlines the indignities that Valy and other Jews faced as laws were passed choking their ability to survive. Even things such as buying shoes was eventually prohibited.
And for the first time ever, I began to understand the complex reasons the U.S. was unwilling to rescue more Jews. It had always seemed like an easy thing: send boats! Bring them to the U.S.! But the author addresses why that didn’t happen.
I appreciated the author’s obsessive research, and her honest assessment of her grandfather and the legacy he crafted. In short, this was a remarkable book, and I appreciate how the author brought Valy to life. If not for Valy’s letters and for the author’s exhaustive research, Valy would have been one more (of the millions) of people whose stories would have disappeared.