When German-born Eva Gerst arrives at Powell House in New York in the wake of the Second World War, she’s on a mission—but not the mission the United States government thinks they’ve enlisted her for. Yes, she’s searching for the Nazi leader they’ve asked her to find, but she has no intention of turning him over to them as instructed. She knows they’ll only protect him. Worse, they’ll allow him to continue his grotesque psychological experiments, like the ones he conducted on the people imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, in the interest of staying one step ahead of the Soviets. No, Eva is determined to bring this Nazi to justice herself.
In Bluebird, author Sharon Cameron (The Light in Hidden Places) dives deep into the dark, little-recognized period immediately following WWII, when the U.S. raced to secure German technology, including Nazi expertise, equipment and strategy, both for its personal use and to keep it out of Soviet hands. The depth of Cameron’s research on this historical era results in a completely immersive novel. Readers will find themselves dropped directly into postwar Germany and New York City alongside Eva as she witnesses the atrocities of the concentration camps and the racist attitudes of both Germans and Americans. They’ll also find beacons of hope among the American Friends Service Committee, which welcomes Eva to Powell House when she first arrives in America. The AFSC, writes Cameron in a lengthy author’s note, was a real organization that received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for its efforts during both world wars and was “one of the few organizations willing to work immediately with non-Jewish German immigrants” after WWII.
Cameron pulls no punches in Bluebird. Although the novel is rarely graphic and never gratuitous, many of Eva’s experiences, including her physically and psychologically abusive parents and the aftermath of her best friend’s sexual assault, resonate viscerally. Despite the novel’s weighty material, Cameron never loses sight of the heart at the center of the story. Eva’s loyalty to her best friend, her struggle to understand her identity and her budding romance with Jacob Katz, whom the AFSC has assigned to help her settle into her new life in America, all keep Bluebird grounded, providing touchstones of warmth amid the horrors of Eva’s past. And when it comes to the impossible decisions Eva must make, Cameron ensures that readers will be searching for the “right” choice right along with her.