Reviewed by Fran Lewis
A circle has no beginning and no end and yet this story comes full circle in its entirety. From 1938 where the story truly begins and the horrors faced by many during the Second World War, this book helps to remind us of events that we cannot and will not ever forget.
This is a novel comprised of many intricate layers of emotions and individual stories. Each character has his/her own inner conflicts to resolve and each character must come to grips with the secrets, lies and half-truths that haunt them and those closest to them. Their pasts, presents and futures so tightly linked together will forever make the events that unfold in this ground breaking novel by Irma Fritz Irretrievably Broken.
Nora, stubborn, headstrong and yet lonely and vulnerable is once married to a man who she thought was the right one for her. Max, different from her is his ideals and goals, is striving to become and actor, but fails, or does he?
Memories of Max and her their live together flood Nora's dreams as she tries to put the pieces of a puzzle so full of jagged edges and empty spaces that the entire picture does not become clear until the unexpected and revealing epilogue.
Working in a nursery, independent landscaper and then as an Information Software Engineer, and horticulturist, Nora did all she could do to create a life with was truly elusive to her as he became.
Ruth, Nora's mother born of German descent had high hopes for Nora and is disappointed in her choices and feels that she could have done better in life. She is also sad that she has no desire to have a family of her nor does she think she ever will. Ruth, who lived through and had to deal with the horrors that befell the Jewish people and her own during the Second World War, has secrets that she does not want to tell and cannot bear to remember.
Stoic, strong willed and forever trying to find the truth behind the night that forever changed her life and haunt her memories, Ruth embarks on a journey back into her past when the German police came to her house and questioned her actions when she was only thirteen years old.
Recounting the past when the Nazi's came and murdered her best friends parents in cold blood and risking everything to protect and hide her from the same fate, Ruth has to come to grips with her own actions and the truths behind that night.
Frieda, her best friend and confidant whose family was brutally murdered by the Nazi's must learn to understand, and deal with the nightmares that haunt not only her but also Ruth and have forever tainted their futures.
Frieda also has to come full circle with the daunting memories that lay hidden in the deep recess of her mind and the reality of what really happened causing her family's deaths and those of many close to her. Hoping to finally find answers and having those responsible brought to justice leads her on journey that will not only reveal the truth but also enlighten her in so many other ways.
Klaus, Ruth's brother is the primary catalyst that controlled the events and the lives of Nora, Ruth and Frieda without their knowledge. Manipulating, monitoring and outlining a plan for Nora to experience a journey from her home all the way to Canada and more, he tries to teach her three lessons related to surviving alone using the land as her guide. It teaches you what it is, who you are and who others are. These lessons not only refer to the land but to those closest to her and the others too.
Frieda's knowledge that her parents were murdered and the need for justice is her primary force for going forward and hoping to state her case when she and Ruth are in Washington and speak as witnesses and survivors at the Holocaust Museum.
Finally, we have Bettina, Mary, Adam and Nandina his wife who is Bettina's mother. Bettina is Nora's niece and Adam's daughter who is born of German and African America descent. Bettina a twelve-year-old child who is sent to live with her aunt and her grandmother because her father is too busy dealing with a new life with someone else.
Embarking on a cross country trip starting in Seattle and through many states and remembering past events that happened in Canada and Germany this multi- racial family must learn to find their family's roots, and hopefully learn to bond and understand the past and forgive those who caused their pain.
Nora, Ruth, Frieda and Nora's friend Mary who joins the group due to her ties to Bettina's mother Nandina and her father, helps create a mix of sadness, humor and truths that will forever touch the heart of the reader.
Their primary goal is to hear both Frieda and Ruth speak at the Holocaust Museum and hopefully be able to relate to those present the horrific events of the past as they remember them. Added to the mix is Ruth's brother Klaus who startling revelations at this meeting change the way Frieda will feel about him forever.
Frieda then goes back to her homeland with everyone and goes to her old house which she walks through and tries to envision the last moments of her parent's lives, the lives of those who lived there after and what happened to the bodies of her parents when she finds the gold wedding rings in her old jewelry box left behind.
Frieda, Nora, Ruth, Bettina, Mary and Klaus learn more hard lessons as a result of what happens when Frieda is presented with the deed and keys to her home in Germany and the behavior of those who are present.
You must read this novel to truly understand the impact of what this amazing author has successfully written. We must remember that the Holocaust did happen-it destroyed many lives in many races, nationalities and more.
Thank you Irma Fritz for the honor of reading your story and one that after reading the ending is still in many cases Irretrievably Broken for Nora, Ruth, Frieda, Klaus and more.
This is a book that reminds us that forgiveness does not come easily and without a price. It is truly about a family that finds understanding and each other as result of their shared lives and experiences.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
I give this book FIVE GOLDEN STARS
Causes Irma Fritz Supports
Music of Remembrance, Seattle, WA; Compass Center, Seattle, WA; Seattle Opera, Seattle, WA; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA; KCTS 9, Seattle, WA (PBS)