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Reviewed by Danelle Petersen for Readers' Favorite
Annette Oppenlander's 24 Hours: The Trade retells the experiences of her father, Günter, and his friend, Helmut, in Germany during World War II. Life is dismal with no relief in sight. There is only starvation and despair to look forward to day after day. Ever since the government drafted his father and older brother, Günter has had to look after his mother and little brother, living off rations and scrounging for what food he can find among the ruins left by the bombs. Helmut’s situation is much the same. Today is no different but by mid-afternoon, it becomes clear that they will have to try even harder to find food until a chance encounter promises to change everything. However, it is not without a price. Günter knows what horrible fate awaits them if caught, but he is willing to take the risk.
I was captivated by 24 Hours: The Trade from the start. It is beautifully written and although short, the story had an impact on me; no one should have to go through what Günter and his fellow countrymen did. The author's vivid descriptions of the war-torn city and its occupants were difficult to take in. I am grateful to Annette Oppenlander for sharing Günter and Helmut's story; it opened my eyes to how Germany's citizens suffered, too. Günter's sensitivity and selflessness were apparent throughout, despite the horror he had to endure. His courage and love for his family made him face the possibility of dying a terrible death. It is amazing what one can do with sheer willpower and resilience.