Rating 3 out of 5
"And no amount of gritting his teeth and mentally declaring that this is different, it's fine, it's not a problem was making the feeling that his soul was being broken apart go away."
Franz Keidel is a perfect SS soldier: loyal, disciplined, and devoted to Hitler With a cold heart, he hunts down his Führer's enemies, but one fateful mission will fracture his shield of ice. While hunting Jews, Franz stumbles across a familiar face: Amos Aumun, his childhood friend. Amos is the only source of joy in Franz's life, but he is also a Jew. Unable to bring himself to kill his friend, Franz vows to protect Amos from his fellow Nazis. As Franz spends more time with Amos, he falls in love with his kind-hearted friend. How could he fall in love with a man, a Jew? How can he continue to hate Jews when a Jew has thawed his icy heart? What will Franz do if he has to choose between love and duty?
This book was a very emotional ride. I mean Franz had a terrible childhood and the only person who ever really showed him compassion was Amos. Fast forward to Nazi Germany, Franz is now an SS officer. On a typical mission to uncover Black Fox members and any hidden Jews, he stumbles upon his old friend hiding in a barn. It is at this moment that Franz first confronts the disconnect between his ideology and his personal beliefs. Franz decides that he will do whatever is necessary to protect Amos. Keep in mind it has been a long time since they've seen one another but Franz feels obligated because Amos gave him so much when they were children.
As the story progresses and the two spend more and more time together, which causes all kinds of trouble for Franz in the work department, a romance develops. I struggled with this because to me the romance that developed between the two of them felt very rushed. I wish it had more time to develop so that I could watch them grow. I also struggled because 90% of their time was Franz hating himself for being in love with a man and a Jew. I just wanted them both to be happy, and Amos always appeared so happy. But Franz was a tormented soul throughout the book.
Now don't get me wrong the author does a marvelous job of showcasing the inner turmoil and struggle of Franz. You can feel alongside him as he is confronted with and tries to compartmentalize loving a Jew, while also hunting down and torturing Jewish people each day. The book was emotional from start to finish and really did not end the way I expected. I don't want to spoil anything but Franz is forced to confront the contradiction in his duty and his love. I just wanted a little more from him in the end. Overall, this book was moving and really begs the question: Does love triumph over all else?