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Small Person Far Away av Judith Kerr
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Small Person Far Away (urspr publ 1978; utgåvan 1993)

av Judith Kerr (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1784114,555 (3.95)8
Partly autobiographical, this is the third title in Judith Kerr's internationally acclaimed trilogy of books following the life of Anna through war-torn Germany, to London during the Blitz and her return to Berlin to discover the past... Berlin is where Anna lived before Hitler, when she was still a German child; before she spoke a word of English, before her family had all become refugees. Long before her happy new existence in London. But Mama is there, dangerously ill. Anna is forced to go back, to deal with questions of life and death, to face old fears, and to discover the past which she has so long shut away.… (mer)
Medlem:RivkaC
Titel:Small Person Far Away
Författare:Judith Kerr (Författare)
Info:HarperCollins Canada / Children's (1993), Edition: New edition, 232 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:****
Taggar:Ingen/inga

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A Small Person Far Away av Judith Kerr (1978)

Ingen/inga.

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8/10 ( )
  mark_read | Aug 13, 2020 |
The final entry in author Judith Kerr's trilogy of autobiographical novels exploring her family's experiences as German Jews before, during and after the Second World War - the first two were When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and The Other Way Round - A Small Person Far Away is set in 1956, and follows Anna (a thinly disguised Judith) as she returns to Berlin to visit her mother, who had just attempted suicide. The events of the story occur over the course of a single week, with a chapter devoted to each day. As the Hungarian Revolution and the Suez Crisis unfold in the background, Anna must contend with the ghosts of the past, and the troubling after-effects of that most recent conflict, WWII. Her relationship with her mother is the focus here, although her brother Max, mother's boyfriend Konrad and husband Richard also feature, as does the memory of her father, who also committed suicide. The "small person far away," who is mentioned in the title, is Anna's childhood self, who occasionally surfaces in her memory, as she tries to make sense of what is going on with her deeply unhappy mother...

I was surprised to find, after enjoying the first two installments of this trilogy quite a bit, that A Small Person Far Away was so unappealing to me. It's not the darkness of the topic - after all, the prior books also dealt with some very serious realities - nor is it the greater maturity of feeling here, although I do think that this is not children's fiction, despite the marketing of the trilogy, and have changed my shelf designations accordingly. Rather, there is an unpleasant tone throughout, perhaps owing to the author's own conflicted feelings about her topic, that made for unpleasant reading. It's almost as if Anna (and through her Judith) is sneering at her own family's trauma. She refers to the events on a number of occasions as "corny," highlighting perhaps a sense of embarrassment at the fallibility (but also perhaps the normalcy?) of her loved ones. Perhaps being a family who quarrels over petty things, as so many families do, doesn't suit her sense of self as well as being a refugee? One feels so ordinary, while the other has more epic, historical implications. Or perhaps again, I am simply being unfair to Kerr and her character.

Whatever the case may be, although I was glad to read this one, both to finish the trilogy (what can I say? I am a terrible completist), and because it was a group reading project that enabled me to discuss it with my friends Gundula, Hilary and Lisa Vegan, in the end this one was a disappointment. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Aug 10, 2019 |
I read this third book of a trilogy as a buddy read with Hilary, Abigail, and Gundula. (I’d read the second book with Hilary and Gundula, and the first book with Hilary, who’d already previously read it.) I was the last person to get this book. None of my libraries had it and there was a queue at Open Library, so I broke down and bought a Kindle edition for $1.99. That edition on a pad wasn’t as easy or as enjoyable to read as the Overdrive and the Open Library editions I’ve read the rather rare times I read e-books.

7 chapters, 1 each day, 7 days to read book was the plan. I cheated slightly and read the short last chapter about an hour early, reading at the same time as Hilary. I was glad to finish this book.

This book has an omnibus edition and I think it is marketed to children and it shouldn’t be. The first book is a children’s book, one that I think can be enjoyed by all ages maybe 8 and up. The second book is really young adult but is okay for children and fine for adults. But this third book is a book that adults only should read. I think some teens used to reading books geared toward adults could read it, but only if they are not overly sensitive to reading about some very dark subject matter.

Overall, this book was a disappointment. I adored the first book and really liked the second. This one wasn’t particularly fun to read. Had it not been a continuation of the story but a standalone book I probably wouldn’t have finished it. Reading with buddies and discussing also helped me to read on and helped me to enjoy it more too. I’d rather the author had written an autobiography because this trilogy is thinly veiled autobiography. At least this third book and its subject should have either been autobiography and if she wasn’t comfortable with that then a standalone novel for adults. The differences between the three books is striking and between each book there is a gap in time too which is noticeable. Luckily, the second and third books do rely on frequently referring to memories and previous events. If this book hadn’t done that I would have enjoyed it even less than I did.

One reason I liked this book less than the first two is that I no longer liked the characters. I could like all at times and that helped but it wasn’t enough. The people and their relationships were no longer fun, even though they probably were depicted honestly. I did emotionally connect with a couple of characters but they tended to be peripheral ones. I am still interested in learning a bit more about Judith Kerr and have a book on hold that I’ll read soon.

The man with the photos broke my heart and was on page briefly but I felt was an effective character. I do think this book shows how the trauma of being a refugee and being a victim (one way or the other) of the Nazi regime can have great adverse impact on people, even if they’re more fortunate than many were.

I did enjoy aspects of the last chapter so it ended on a bit of a high note, but it wasn’t enough. The book didn’t really come together as a whole for me. It felt disjointed and given what the main character was experiencing that does make sense.

Once I knew the reason for the book’s title I did really like it. The ways memory and identity are explored felt genuine.

I think it must have been cathartic for Judith to write this book but it wasn’t that much fun to read much of the time.

All three novels in this trilogy are very thinly veiled autobiographies, though from further readers and the buddy read discussion, it’s clear she often deviated from facts and left out many things, true of most autobiographical novels.

A few details that are spoilers: I have a lot of empathy for depressed and suicidal people but Anna’s mother was so manipulative and hostile, and she acted so needy, and she definitely underappreciate Anna. So many examples of that including times she greatly favored Anna’s brother Max.

The curse. I hadn’t heard that term for menstruation for many years and fortunately never used it or heard it used as a present term when I was young.

Re the child of 2 suicides or 1 suicide and the way the parents-children relationships were, I’m glad that Max had a young family and that Anna had her husband and new job and was to have a family.

I really didn’t like Mama in this book, and so many memories showed there was no major change on her part but that Kerr left out a lot of what went on when she wrote the first two books. And the way she treated Anna most of the time was painful to read. There was a more positive interaction toward the end of the book. Mostly I had a hard time liking Konrad. But he definitely had great qualities too. I was irritated with Max here too, even though I understood about his situation too. But he was too self-centered and too much a Golden Boy the relationship between he and Anna seemed to have lost its closeness. That felt especially disappointing to me. And I felt for Anna and was least upset with her but at time frustrated.

As I said in the review, the man with the photos was powerful/broke my heart. It’s so true that photos can make victims more real in the eyes of witnesses.

And the Swastika curtains! Yikes!

It's a shame. in the first book the family relationships seemed close. Even in the second. The third book takes a different perspective and is likely most honest but less satisfying as reading material, especially since we were first introduced to the characters in a mostly different way.


I’m glad I read the book but I’m glad it’s over.

Only 2 stars for reading enjoyment, at times 1 and at times 3, but rounded up to 3 stars from 2-1/2 because the first 2 books were so good and this feels like a continuation of the story, though 3 stars is generous. I did still want to learn more about the author and the other people in this book. I even researched a bit as I read. So I must have remained interested in some ways. And it ended on an interesting note.

The more I think the more I feel compelled to downgrade this to 2 stars. On its own that's what it was for me. ( )
1 rösta Lisa2013 | Aug 9, 2019 |
A suprising moving little novel. The author wrote at least three books about a German refugee family, I read the first, for children, but didn't know more existed. It is loosely based on her own life but a fine novel on it's own. I was completely taken into it, the characters and all their irritating foibles. I expected it all to end badly but there was a suprisingly hopeful ending. Worth finding out more by her.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Judith Kerrprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Böll, AnnemarieÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat

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Partly autobiographical, this is the third title in Judith Kerr's internationally acclaimed trilogy of books following the life of Anna through war-torn Germany, to London during the Blitz and her return to Berlin to discover the past... Berlin is where Anna lived before Hitler, when she was still a German child; before she spoke a word of English, before her family had all become refugees. Long before her happy new existence in London. But Mama is there, dangerously ill. Anna is forced to go back, to deal with questions of life and death, to face old fears, and to discover the past which she has so long shut away.

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