'False Heroes: Held Hostage by Heritage' is the true story of Diana, a survivor. It tells of her struggle to free herself from the bondage of her authoritative European heritage and her account of a war-ridden childhood, Germany WWII. Her story compels the reader to examine issues from their own past. It ponders the question, "Can we be held prisoners within our own souls?" This book is about reconciling the past with the present in one's life. A liberating experience, it spans continents and conflicts.
Diana did not know there was a tomorrow. She said her prayers at night, and did not expect to wake up in the morning. ‘If I should die before I wake…’ She never taught her children this prayer. It gave her the chills ever after.
Diana’s story is meant to inspire the reader to ask questions on their own. It resonates with the strength one can find in the midst of adversity, challenges and despair. It's about forging forward despite all odds, fighting for identity and freedom from a heritage that holds one hostage, as well as the chains within ones soul.
Most of us are descendants from other countries and century old cultures, with scars and stigmas, with imprints of wars and limited choices. This story, which follows Diana for a lifetime, can be a healing experience, and a voice for many that could never speak of their most hurtful secrets. It unmasks sacred convents, religion, the ‘Good’ and the ‘Holy’, abandonment, rape, betrayal, abusive relationships and more.
Despite subject matters that are painful to comprehend and hard to read about, this book effectively captures the readers heart. This book was written with the intention to help the reader find strength and resolve, courage, trust in free choices, and a better tomorrow.
Plot: The life of Diana, the protagonist of this wrenching biography, offers readers an urgent story of a woman discovering that, after a lifetime of abuse and deprivation, she deserves "to be human at last." Moving and haunted, this story of a hardscrabble German childhood during the war, abuse suffered in a convent and in her first marriage, and the liberating power of divorce and eventual romance is told with power and feeling, despite the text's rawness and the author's disregard for scenecraft or other niceties of commercial narrative storytelling. The book's title belies its contents, as there's little discussion in this straightforward account of a life of "False Heroes," and the "prelude" and much of its first chapter, which find Diana reluctant to look back on her life, are conceptually muddled. The book's shape and power don't reveal themselves until the narrator faces the hard truths of Diana's childhood.
Prose/Style: False Heroes boasts frank, direct, compelling prose digging deep into Diana's trauma and healing, often in extraordinary lines. The level of disclosure is high, and potent emotion pulses through the book. The lack of scenes or (especially in the early chapters) strong narrative structure diminishes the potential of narrative momentum. The occasional suggestions that the author is in fact Diana, despite the third-person perspective, at times seem coy and at times create unnecessary distance and confusion.
Originality: Diana's life of deprivation, emigration, and courageous independence is unique but also touched with universal themes and lessons. The book's most singular ideas, such as a German immigrant's feelings of guilt about her heritage, would have benefitted from a more thorough examination.
Character Development/Execution: While indisputably powerful, and certain to elicit tears from the patient reader, False Heroes suffers from uncertain thematic presentation and a lack of narrative technique. Still, it's a vital contribution to the history of American lives. The story and life it reveals are rich and affecting.
Date Submitted: October 14, 2020