An intimate portrait of a friendship severed by history, and a sweeping saga of wartime, motherhood, and legacy by an award-winning novelist.
East Village, 1989
Things had never been easy between Ava Fisher and her estranged mother Ilse. Too many questions hovered between them: Who was Ava’s father? Where had Ilse been during the war? Why had she left her only child in a German orphanage during the war’s final months? But now Ilse’s ashes have arrived from Germany, and with them, a trove of unsent letters addressed to someone else unknown to Ava: Renate Bauer, a childhood friend. As her mother’s letters unfurl a dark past, Ava spirals deep into the shocking history of a woman she never truly knew.
As the Nazi party tightens its grip on the city, Ilse and Renate find their friendship under siege—and Ilse’s increasing involvement in the Hitler Youth movement leaves them on opposing sides of the gathering storm. Then the Nuremburg Laws force Renate to confront a long-buried past, and a catastrophic betrayal is set in motion…
An unflinching exploration of Nazi Germany and its legacy, Wunderland is a at once a powerful portrait of an unspeakable crime and a page-turning contemplation of womanhood, wartime, and just how far we might go in order to belong.
“Through the friendship of two teenaged girls in 1930s Germany, Wunderland depicts, in intimate and chilling detail, how fascism, racism, and xenophobia are made normal and acceptable; how ordinary people, beguiled by the siren call of nationalism, are led willingly into acts of inhumanity–and could be again, if we ignore the lessons of the past. But this novel is more than a history lesson; it’s a heart-in-your-mouth page-turner that leaves you thinking about its characters, and imagining how things might have gone for them in a different world, long afterwards.”
—Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke