Book Review: Surviving the Fatherland by Annette Oppenlander

Book Review: Surviving the Fatherland by Annette Oppenlander

Surviving the Fatherland: A True Coming of Age Love Story Set in WWII Germany
Annette Oppenlander

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What the Book is About

Surviving the Fatherland follows Lilly and Gunter from the beginning of the war, as they make their way through their teenage years, and into young adulthood. Lilly’s father goes off to war under false pretenses and Gunter himself must escape the vicious cycle of war that traps all the men in his family. Both of them have many scars following the war and only after meeting each other do they begin to heal.

First Impressions

The first thing that drew me in was the characters. I immediately liked Lilly and wanted to know what was going to happen to her. I empathized with her desire to be loved and not forgotten. Living in a house where I had to constantly fight for love and attention, I understood Lilly’s struggles and felt them deeply.

What I Liked

I absolutely loved the characters. All of them were so three dimensional. They were also flawed, which I think made them more real and endearing. We come to see them as real people with real struggles. 

I really enjoyed the setting of the book. I think that so much was imparted in this book in terms of detail to the German plight during WWII. We usually see WWII portrayed from the victims of the Germans, but rarely do we realize that many German civilians and children were also victims. I was completely unaware of the starvation and ruins that the country was in. That the act of survival was so intrinsic to German life in the last few years of the war and even after it. 

The love story itself was sweet, though it wasn’t the main focus of the book. While I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the two main characters growing up even more. 

What I Didn’t Like

The major thing that knocked this book down from 5 stars for me, was the many spelling and grammar errors and the formatting issues this book had. I was rather disappointed that this was the case, because Ms. Oppenlander is such a fantastic writer. This detracted from the book and made it seem unfinished. 

My second complaint is somewhat minor, though important enough to include here. I found the myriad of sexual encounters to be distracting from the main plot of the story. The story was compelling enough without the added eroticism. I don’t particularly mind sex in a book, but to me the number and depth of description was just unnecessary. 

Final Thoughts

I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book and would even read it again if the grammar errors were fixed. I highly recommend it to anyone that likes coming of age stories or is fascinated with WWII as I am.


I was provided a copy of this book through the website Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Special thanks to booksgosocial and Annette Oppenlander for making this book available for review.

Finley Jane Farmer is a non-binary mother of 2. When they’re not homeschooling their son (with Autism) or running after their preschool daughter, they are busy knitting, reading, and drinking a good cup of coffee. Finley wants to share their joy of reading with the world by reviewing books whether old or available for pre-order. They hope that they can share the best parts of the magical worlds contained within the books, providing you with an endless list of adventures to sate your reading appetite.

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