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Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

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A revelatory, visually stunning graphic memoir by award-winning artist Nora Krug, telling the story of her attempt to confront the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to comprehend the forces that have shaped her life, her generation, and history. Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long sh A revelatory, visually stunning graphic memoir by award-winning artist Nora Krug, telling the story of her attempt to confront the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to comprehend the forces that have shaped her life, her generation, and history. Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long shadow throughout her childhood and youth in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. For Nora, the simple fact of her German citizenship bound her to the Holocaust and its unspeakable atrocities and left her without a sense of cultural belonging. Yet Nora knew little about her own family’s involvement in the war: though all four grandparents lived through the war, they never spoke of it. In her late thirties, after twelve years in the US, Krug realizes that living abroad has only intensified her need to ask the questions she didn’t dare to as a child and young adult. Returning to Germany, she visits archives, conducts research, and interviews family members, uncovering in the process the stories of her maternal grandfather, a driving teacher in Karlsruhe during the war, and her father’s brother Franz-Karl, who died as a teenage SS soldier in Italy. Her extraordinary quest, spanning continents and generations, pieces together her family’s troubling story and reflects on what it means to be a German of her generation. Belonging wrestles with the idea of Heimat, the German word for the place that first forms us, where the sensibilities and identity of one generation pass on to the next. In this highly inventive visual memoir—equal parts graphic novel, family scrapbook, and investigative narrative—Nora Krug draws on letters, archival material, flea market finds, and photographs to attempt to understand what it means to belong to one’s country and one’s family. A wholly original record of a German woman’s struggle with the weight of catastrophic history, Belonging is also a reflection on the responsibility that we all have as inheritors of our countries’ pasts.


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A revelatory, visually stunning graphic memoir by award-winning artist Nora Krug, telling the story of her attempt to confront the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to comprehend the forces that have shaped her life, her generation, and history. Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long sh A revelatory, visually stunning graphic memoir by award-winning artist Nora Krug, telling the story of her attempt to confront the hidden truths of her family’s wartime past in Nazi Germany and to comprehend the forces that have shaped her life, her generation, and history. Nora Krug was born decades after the fall of the Nazi regime, but the Second World War cast a long shadow throughout her childhood and youth in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. For Nora, the simple fact of her German citizenship bound her to the Holocaust and its unspeakable atrocities and left her without a sense of cultural belonging. Yet Nora knew little about her own family’s involvement in the war: though all four grandparents lived through the war, they never spoke of it. In her late thirties, after twelve years in the US, Krug realizes that living abroad has only intensified her need to ask the questions she didn’t dare to as a child and young adult. Returning to Germany, she visits archives, conducts research, and interviews family members, uncovering in the process the stories of her maternal grandfather, a driving teacher in Karlsruhe during the war, and her father’s brother Franz-Karl, who died as a teenage SS soldier in Italy. Her extraordinary quest, spanning continents and generations, pieces together her family’s troubling story and reflects on what it means to be a German of her generation. Belonging wrestles with the idea of Heimat, the German word for the place that first forms us, where the sensibilities and identity of one generation pass on to the next. In this highly inventive visual memoir—equal parts graphic novel, family scrapbook, and investigative narrative—Nora Krug draws on letters, archival material, flea market finds, and photographs to attempt to understand what it means to belong to one’s country and one’s family. A wholly original record of a German woman’s struggle with the weight of catastrophic history, Belonging is also a reflection on the responsibility that we all have as inheritors of our countries’ pasts.

30 review for Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    Can I give it an extra star?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Templeton

    I am almost overwhelmed at the depth and intensity of this graphic memoir. My husband is a second generation German American, his father was born in Germany shortly before the end of WWII and his mother is of Jewish heritage. As a child, my husband wasn’t taught German and learned very little of his father’s family, never heard stories of the homeland. Reading this book felt like peeking behind an unspoken curtain into some inkling of my father-in-law’s thoughts. I was absolutely captivated both I am almost overwhelmed at the depth and intensity of this graphic memoir. My husband is a second generation German American, his father was born in Germany shortly before the end of WWII and his mother is of Jewish heritage. As a child, my husband wasn’t taught German and learned very little of his father’s family, never heard stories of the homeland. Reading this book felt like peeking behind an unspoken curtain into some inkling of my father-in-law’s thoughts. I was absolutely captivated both for Krug and myself. I will share this digital advanced copy with my husband and hope to build the courage to share a copy with my father-in-law after publication.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    In "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil is told not to mention the war, but he does, frequently, until the guest break out in tears. At the time, I thought it odd that the germans would be upset about it. As Basil said, they started it. I bring this up, because the author of this story, is one such German, who knows about the war, but it is not talked about, though her father's older brother fought and died in World War II. This memoir of how she doesn't feel that she has a home in her f In "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil is told not to mention the war, but he does, frequently, until the guest break out in tears. At the time, I thought it odd that the germans would be upset about it. As Basil said, they started it. I bring this up, because the author of this story, is one such German, who knows about the war, but it is not talked about, though her father's older brother fought and died in World War II. This memoir of how she doesn't feel that she has a home in her former homeland, and how she goes in search of what her family did in the war, and what happened to them. There has been a sense of guilt she has felt, from her homeland, and she finds it follows her abroad. It is an amazing book. When the Americans came and saw what had happened in the concentration camps, they forced the citizens to not only look on the dead, but to transport them and give them decent burials. And so, with this background, and the feeling of shame, the author goes in search of the uncle that died int he war, as well as her grandfather. She wants to know if her family really was evil. Did they support Hitler, of were they sheep, just followers. She goes and talks to relatives still living in Germany, and finds source documents, to find the story of those that came before her. It is a long and interesting journey, and one that is part speculation. But the depth that she goes to, in her search, is amazing. What a fanstastic, book, going into the heart and soul of the survivors. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Belonging is an absolutely beautiful memoir full of questions about identity, family and homeland. Nora Krug was born and raised in Germany, in the shadow of World War II. Belonging is a deeply personal memoir about her struggles with German identity, coming to terms with her family history, and exploring the German idea of Heimat, or homeland. Her journey leads her to talking to Holocaust survivors in her new homeland of Brooklyn, traveling with her mother and father to Germany, meeting many un Belonging is an absolutely beautiful memoir full of questions about identity, family and homeland. Nora Krug was born and raised in Germany, in the shadow of World War II. Belonging is a deeply personal memoir about her struggles with German identity, coming to terms with her family history, and exploring the German idea of Heimat, or homeland. Her journey leads her to talking to Holocaust survivors in her new homeland of Brooklyn, traveling with her mother and father to Germany, meeting many unexpected people and gaining many new insights into her family's history and how it relates to history at large. The artistic style is stunning. The font chosen for the book looks hand written, and photographs and documents are interspersed with illustrations. This is such a deeply personal story, but I related to it on many levels. The search for identity, trying to learn about people in your past who have died long ago, and figuring out where is your homeland were all things I could relate to. Belonging is a masterpiece of a book, a book that makes the best use of a graphic novel format, and a memoir that should join classics like Persepolis or Maus. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geoffrey

    (Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley) Between the real life photos and documents that are mixed with absolutely gorgeous art, and Nora Krug's meticulous documentation of her quest to unravel and understand her family's history, it's impossible to not feel like you were placed in the author's shoes and taken along for every single step of her journey. You will be unsettled by the same questions and worries that weigh on her, end up feeling the same thirst (Note: I received an advanced reader's copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley) Between the real life photos and documents that are mixed with absolutely gorgeous art, and Nora Krug's meticulous documentation of her quest to unravel and understand her family's history, it's impossible to not feel like you were placed in the author's shoes and taken along for every single step of her journey. You will be unsettled by the same questions and worries that weigh on her, end up feeling the same thirst for answers, and feel the same grapple of emotions that beset her with every new revelation about the past. It's an experience that you should not pass up, especially considering the present. With mass dehumanization of others on a fierce and continuing rise, Krug will do the much-needed favor of making you think of what it means to have a national past shaped by dark forces. One of the best books I've read this year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deanna (Deanna Reads Books)

    This review was originally posted on my review blog Deanna Reads Books This graphic memoir is a really deep and poignant look at one's self. It's a really heavy topic, but I found it awesome to experience Nora's journey of self-discovery cool to be done in the graphic medium. I also loved that it wasn't a typical graphic novel. The book was drawn as if written in a notebook, and there were even real photos put into it to make it feel more real. One page might have a real photo of her grandfather This review was originally posted on my review blog Deanna Reads Books This graphic memoir is a really deep and poignant look at one's self. It's a really heavy topic, but I found it awesome to experience Nora's journey of self-discovery cool to be done in the graphic medium. I also loved that it wasn't a typical graphic novel. The book was drawn as if written in a notebook, and there were even real photos put into it to make it feel more real. One page might have a real photo of her grandfather in a german uniform, and the next page was a little illustration of the people in the town. It kind of hit you with the truth suddenly. I do want to post a warning though, some of the images early on were a little too much to handle. We are dealing with WWII in Nazi Germany, so there are some horrific images there. So just be mindful of that if that could be a trigger, or just something you wouldn't want to see in a book. Nora's memoir is really fascinating to me, because it really looks at war and how it shapes a country. Does the war ever really leave a country? What the Nazis did was really truly terrible, and Nora has known that her entire life. She feels like she has been shamed so much by her country's past that to be patriotic in any shape is bad, and she doesn't really know where she belongs. I really felt for her when she mentions people would do the Hitler Salute to her in jest when they found out she was German. That was just so cruel. Since she feels this way, she decides to find out just what exactly her family did during the war. War shapes everyone it touches, even after it's been long gone. It changes a country, it changes a landscape, and in Nora's experience it feel like Germany is still dealing with what their ancestors did. It's hard to read about what happened in Germany to both the Jews and the Germany people. Nora sets out to really find the truth about what her family did in what seems like a way to absolve her of her guilt. I don't think in the end that isn't really the point of her doing this. She just wants to have the answers to all her questions. She just wants to know what really happened. It won't make her feel better, but it will make her understand her family and herself. I think the point of her story is really the journey, and not what she ends up finding. I feel like I can't say much more about this book without giving more of it away. I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but this one was a really in depth look at how history and culture can really affect a family for years. I'm really glad I read this one. *I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    A fascinating memoir of one woman's attempt to understand and connect with her own past, as well as the complicated past of Germany. It's well worth a read. I received access to this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    We all Search: for roots, meaning, answers, stories, purpose. Nora Krug’s Belonging is the author’s journey of making her way back to the German towns her parents and relatives are from and learning their stories. It’s about Searching, Finding her own way, figuring out Collective Guilt, following the bread crumbs, hoping they’ll lead her ‘home.’ This ‘graphic memoir’ engaged me from the moment I opened it. Mesmerizing, creative, dramatic. I’ve never seen anything like it. (That’s a compliment of We all Search: for roots, meaning, answers, stories, purpose. Nora Krug’s Belonging is the author’s journey of making her way back to the German towns her parents and relatives are from and learning their stories. It’s about Searching, Finding her own way, figuring out Collective Guilt, following the bread crumbs, hoping they’ll lead her ‘home.’ This ‘graphic memoir’ engaged me from the moment I opened it. Mesmerizing, creative, dramatic. I’ve never seen anything like it. (That’s a compliment of the highest order!) The first German thing from Krug’s notebook is Hansaplast, a bandage, the safest thing in the world. “It is the most tenacious bandage on the planet, and it hurts when you tear it off to look at your scar.” A metaphor for what’s to come. The heart opening in searching honesty. Krug’s Questioning becomes our questioning. We don’t talk about the war. My German immigrant grandparents came over after WWI and did not talk about it. The German host family I lived with for a year did not. Nor did my parents (too young to remember much detail.) We don’t talk about the war. I’m glad Krug searched for answers and shared them in this entrancing memoir ‘scrapbook.’ It makes me wonder how much I don’t know about my family. Simple powerful drawings with pencil-type color fill the book. Illustrated and photographed faces haunt, making the reader/ watcher pause. Handwritten script is neat, writing is strong, yet concise. School essays, photos, letters, German documents and collages from flea market finds add to the mood of Belonging. Krug dedicates the book: To my old family and my new family. Bonds form. Uhu glue is the final German thing Nora elaborates on. While incredibly strong, it cannot fill all the cracks. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for granting access to an arc of this book for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Katz

    I’m not sure how to rate a book like this, what kinds of criteria to use. The author, a German expatriate married to a Jewish husband, has created a strikingly original work — a chimera — of enormous power, grace, and courage. Drawings, photographs, documents, and words are brought together in such a way as to capture the emotional complexity of her quest to discover her family’s lives (and, to a very real extent, the lives of other Germans) during the Nazi years, both before and during the war. I’m not sure how to rate a book like this, what kinds of criteria to use. The author, a German expatriate married to a Jewish husband, has created a strikingly original work — a chimera — of enormous power, grace, and courage. Drawings, photographs, documents, and words are brought together in such a way as to capture the emotional complexity of her quest to discover her family’s lives (and, to a very real extent, the lives of other Germans) during the Nazi years, both before and during the war. These grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins — Were they aware of what was going on? Did they choose to be oblivious? Were they participants? Bystanders, soldiers, opponents of the regime? Krug held nothing back in her search to understand, and she withholds nothing from the reader: not the anxiety, uncertainty, guilt, hope, sadness, and doubt. I can’t begin to understand how the mixture of text and illustration had such a profound effect on me. As I said, I don’t know what standards to use in rating the book. In the end, what I relied upon was how eager I was each day to pick up the book so I could resume where I left off. So I could share at a distance the extraordinary journey Nora Krug took.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Samuelson

    This was such a stunning book for me. “Stunning” in that it affected me in a way I did not expect. I have read lots of books about WWII—non-fiction, fiction, children’s & YA books, even a couple graphic novels/memoirs. Despite all that though, I had never given much thought to how that time period affects modern Germans. When I thought of post-war Germany at all it was mostly in relation to the Berlin Wall. With Nora as my guide, however, I began to understand the struggle that many Germans fa This was such a stunning book for me. “Stunning” in that it affected me in a way I did not expect. I have read lots of books about WWII—non-fiction, fiction, children’s & YA books, even a couple graphic novels/memoirs. Despite all that though, I had never given much thought to how that time period affects modern Germans. When I thought of post-war Germany at all it was mostly in relation to the Berlin Wall. With Nora as my guide, however, I began to understand the struggle that many Germans face in terms of WWII. It is national and cultural shame on a level I had never considered. Now living with her husband in New York, Nora sets out to understand her Heimat (which from what I can tell means “homeland”). Using original artwork, photographs, and historic documents, the book delves into Nora’s own family past—particularly the lives of her paternal uncle and maternal grandfather—as she tries to come to terms with her own feeling of guilt and shame over events that took place decades before she was born. The artwork is very striking and adds a lot to how the author shares her story. *I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Morris

    I don't think there are enough words to accurately describe how beautiful this graphic novel is. The mix of various diary entries, photographs, various illustrations, and excerpts from propaganda combine to pack an emotional punch. I can't recommend this memoir about growing up German after the horrors of the Nazis enough. This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dlmrose

    ARC

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emmah

    I love that the whole of this book was handwritten.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    In this memoir, Nora Krug researches her German family to help alleviate her feelings of guilt about World War II. She includes research from government sources and family photos to help her tell her family's story. Her book has the feel of a journal with her personal feelings about her discoveries, and a scrapbook with her drawings, photos, and documents that she explains to weave the story together. It is artistically arranged, and feels personal and confessional. **Read via NetGalley **Publicat In this memoir, Nora Krug researches her German family to help alleviate her feelings of guilt about World War II. She includes research from government sources and family photos to help her tell her family's story. Her book has the feel of a journal with her personal feelings about her discoveries, and a scrapbook with her drawings, photos, and documents that she explains to weave the story together. It is artistically arranged, and feels personal and confessional. **Read via NetGalley **Publication date: October 2, 2018

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jesica DeHart

    Brace yourself to be consumed by this raw, deeply personal and revealing memoir. As a German, Nora Krug yearns to know the truth of her fractured family and in searching she aches to be absolved.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free digital copy! In Belonging, Nora Krug wrestles with questions about what we inherit and the ways we can (and can't) heal. Though this account was deeply rooted in Nora's family history and her questions about her grandparents during WWII, I (a Southern American) found it deeply relatable and touching. All families have fractures, and Nora's narrative did full justice to the longing to understand and to reconcile that sometimes comes w Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free digital copy! In Belonging, Nora Krug wrestles with questions about what we inherit and the ways we can (and can't) heal. Though this account was deeply rooted in Nora's family history and her questions about her grandparents during WWII, I (a Southern American) found it deeply relatable and touching. All families have fractures, and Nora's narrative did full justice to the longing to understand and to reconcile that sometimes comes when you inherit the pieces. I loved the multimedia feel of this book, too. The use of different textures, scans, illustrations, and handwritten text made the story feel tactile, engaging, and personal in a way that would have been lost if it were just typed in plain text. A quietly vibrant memoir that will make you ponder.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    This book is so powerful and emotional and eye-opening. Krug takes us with her on a journey to uncover the buried history of her homeland and her family; Krug's watercolor-esque illustrations, historical photographs, and found objects take it to another level. Everyone should read this. *Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John

    This is a wonderful book, for many reasons. I come from a country that was occupied by the Germans during WWII, and have heard horrific stories about them. The entire male population of a village next to the one where my parents grew up was executed by the Germans, while children such as my father were malnourished because the Germans were stealing everything the village produced. Everywhere in the country there are monuments that remind everyone of the atrocities committed by German soldiers. Gi This is a wonderful book, for many reasons. I come from a country that was occupied by the Germans during WWII, and have heard horrific stories about them. The entire male population of a village next to the one where my parents grew up was executed by the Germans, while children such as my father were malnourished because the Germans were stealing everything the village produced. Everywhere in the country there are monuments that remind everyone of the atrocities committed by German soldiers. Given all that, you would think I hate people like the author, but I don't believe anyone is responsible for anything other than what they themselves have done. The author however raises a very significant point. How proud can or should we be about our family and our home, our heimat, when we know or suspect that our past isn't as benevolent as our family's kindness to us may have led us to believe as children? This book does a very good job of answering that question, and would appeal to people of all cultures and ethnicities, and certainly not just Germans.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    It's not popular to rate this only a 3, but I have to do it. The illustrations throughout were truly interesting and the best part of the book. I really liked that each page was it's own little surprise of images. The writing though... it dragged. It dragged for so long with little to come of it. You know those movies you watch where they just ramble through a day and there is no real 'story'? That's how this book felt. She has guilt, curiosity, and more guilt. Which is fine, but it was boring a It's not popular to rate this only a 3, but I have to do it. The illustrations throughout were truly interesting and the best part of the book. I really liked that each page was it's own little surprise of images. The writing though... it dragged. It dragged for so long with little to come of it. You know those movies you watch where they just ramble through a day and there is no real 'story'? That's how this book felt. She has guilt, curiosity, and more guilt. Which is fine, but it was boring and draining and not altogether very interesting. Just a meandering through very little of her history and very little of anything tangible and I felt unfulfilled at the end of it. I truly wanted to like this book, if not for the illustrations alone, but I just didn't enjoy it that much.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This is a thought-provoking and interesting read. I like the medium she used to tell her story - the graphic novel, more like a scrap book, with everything written by hand and put together so carefully. The author grew up in 80s Germany with always a feeling of shame about the past, even though her parents were both born after the end of WWII. She moves to the U.S. and it's still there, not helped by comments and stereotypes made by others. She never feels that she belongs in any place. She final This is a thought-provoking and interesting read. I like the medium she used to tell her story - the graphic novel, more like a scrap book, with everything written by hand and put together so carefully. The author grew up in 80s Germany with always a feeling of shame about the past, even though her parents were both born after the end of WWII. She moves to the U.S. and it's still there, not helped by comments and stereotypes made by others. She never feels that she belongs in any place. She finally decides to look into her family's past and find out what was going on back then. She struggles with the answers - two grandfathers in the Nazi army and an uncle in the SS - and is desperate to know their thoughts and feelings about it. I found she doesn't come to a real resolution - just that she finally understands that people make their own choices, especially in desperate times, but that their children and grandchildren should not have to feel ashamed on their part and should simply live their best life. There are things that cannot be changed or healed, but people have to move forward. I recommend this for anyone and especially those with any connection to war. To me it was particularly interesting because all of my grandparents were in the Occupied Netherlands at the time of WWII. Even though they were occupied, my grandfather had a brother who did switch sides and joined the SS. He died in combat and there's nothing else known about him. To me, because my grandparents were not the "bad guys", I've never felt that sense of shame, except regret on my great-uncle's part. This book opened my eyes about a lot of things, but also drove home again how horrible and evil the war was.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    The author is on a journey,a very personal quest to discover the Heimat of her family before, during and after WWII. Her desire to find out what happened is told in a most unusual way, through a hand printed, memory scrapbook. I have wondered for some time how Germans lived through the war; how they regarded their role as it played out at home. What did they know? How did they participate in the execution and transportation of Jews from their communities to the death camps? Silence? Denial? To an The author is on a journey,a very personal quest to discover the Heimat of her family before, during and after WWII. Her desire to find out what happened is told in a most unusual way, through a hand printed, memory scrapbook. I have wondered for some time how Germans lived through the war; how they regarded their role as it played out at home. What did they know? How did they participate in the execution and transportation of Jews from their communities to the death camps? Silence? Denial? To answer these questions she goes back to the family village and talks to relatives still there wanting desperately to understand her uncle, the one she never knew, but who had the same name as her father. At the end, there is a photo of soldier Karl-Franz, January 1944 and his last letter some months later. I am reminded of a letter written by my Uncle Wilburn shortly before he died in the Battle of the Bulge; the one in which he talks about wanting to get a “kiddie car” for his soon-to-be born child—one he would never know. Wasted lives. And immense tragedy and sorrow. While fascinating, I found I had difficulty sorting through the family relatives. The timeline jumped all over the place, but maybe that is the nature of this mixed media book. Still, it is a poignant record of her search for her family. I thank the acquisitions librarian at our library for pointing this book out to me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Wayne McCoy

    'Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home' by Nora Krug is a non-fiction graphic novel about the difficulty of finding one's place in the world with a troubled national history. Nora was born long after the fall of the Nazi party in Germany, but the guilt of her nation still hangs over her. She has an uncle that died in the war, and a grandfather that may or may not have been involved. Family accounts say he wasn't, but what is the truth? Nora travels back to a town in Germany to find out 'Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home' by Nora Krug is a non-fiction graphic novel about the difficulty of finding one's place in the world with a troubled national history. Nora was born long after the fall of the Nazi party in Germany, but the guilt of her nation still hangs over her. She has an uncle that died in the war, and a grandfather that may or may not have been involved. Family accounts say he wasn't, but what is the truth? Nora travels back to a town in Germany to find out about an uncle she never knew, an aunt she has never met, and a grandfather whose past raises more questions than answers at times. Along the way she discovers her own place in the world and where she belongs. I used the word graphic novel, but that may imply that the book is drawn, but it includes family pictures, letters, documents, and more. There are elements of collage also. What shines though is the narrative, which is told with the kind of frankness and openness that I found greatly appealing. I'm so glad I got to read this book. I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Scribner and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    As soon as I read a review of this book, I simply had to have it. I put it on my Christmas wish list because of the cost, but when I walked into my local book store, it was there, an irresistable temptation. So it ended up being a birthday present to myself. I'm a big fan of graphic novels, a somewhat silly term invented to make comics somehow respectible. I suppose you really couldn't call this book a comic, since it never follows a traditional panel format. It is a visual feast! The topic was As soon as I read a review of this book, I simply had to have it. I put it on my Christmas wish list because of the cost, but when I walked into my local book store, it was there, an irresistable temptation. So it ended up being a birthday present to myself. I'm a big fan of graphic novels, a somewhat silly term invented to make comics somehow respectible. I suppose you really couldn't call this book a comic, since it never follows a traditional panel format. It is a visual feast! The topic was not only close to me (trying to define Heimat, explaining "German-ness" when abroad, and living with the reactions when people find out you're German), but also literally close: one half of the author's family comes from Karlsruhe, as does mine (ok, south of Karlsruhe). The content is thoughtful and thought-provoking. This would make a wonderful book for discussion, especially among a group of expats or bicultural folks. I was really torn whether to get the German or the English version (published simultaneously) - perhaps I'll have an opportunity to read the English edition someday, just for comparison.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Belonging was a narrative of the author's ancestry told by using non-traditional pieces of history. I've truly never read a book formatted like this before. Not only was it entirely handwritten, it featured German schoolwork, old photographs, the author's illustrations, and more. It feels as-if I just read through a private scrapbook. This story was not only unique in the way it was told but in the message it was conveying. As an American, I have never stopped to think about the shame Germans carr Belonging was a narrative of the author's ancestry told by using non-traditional pieces of history. I've truly never read a book formatted like this before. Not only was it entirely handwritten, it featured German schoolwork, old photographs, the author's illustrations, and more. It feels as-if I just read through a private scrapbook. This story was not only unique in the way it was told but in the message it was conveying. As an American, I have never stopped to think about the shame Germans carry due to the Holocaust or the loss of each family's history. I found this to be both informational, interesting, and thought-provoking. My major issue with this book was how scattered it often felt and the lack of a family tree. We had to keep track of A LOT of people and the relationships got very tangled. Nevertheless, piecing together ones life by other accounts was strangely fascinating and I recommend this to anyone interested in that point in time. Thank you to the publishers who provided me with an ARC of this book through NetGalley!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    "I feel a sudden pain, shallow but sharp and all-consuming as a paper cut, because even inherited memory hurts." It's been a very long time since I have felt a book so deeply and I find it difficult to adequately express that depth of emotion. Having never given much thought to the subsequent generations that are coming after the war I am blown away by how blind I have been to the lasting and wide-spread impact of such a world event. This book was presented with such beautiful innocence and hon "I feel a sudden pain, shallow but sharp and all-consuming as a paper cut, because even inherited memory hurts." It's been a very long time since I have felt a book so deeply and I find it difficult to adequately express that depth of emotion. Having never given much thought to the subsequent generations that are coming after the war I am blown away by how blind I have been to the lasting and wide-spread impact of such a world event. This book was presented with such beautiful innocence and honesty, and was so completely immersive that maybe just a list of all the thoughts and feelings I experienced while reading it will do to convey my gratitude at having been lucky enough to experience it. Insightful, introspective, heart-wrenching, beautiful, moving, thoughtful, honest, intimate, painfully raw. Many, many,many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    I received a free copy of "Belonging" by Nora Krug, through the "Good Reads First Reads Giveaway." Hitler was a master of evil, who twisted a technically advanced and cultured nation into a horrible attempt to dominate the world. This is an honest and sincere attempt to review the impact of WWII on a typical German family. Both my father and father-in-law, risked their lives fighting the Nazi war machine and this made me uncomfortable regarding Germans in general. This book softens my attitude to I received a free copy of "Belonging" by Nora Krug, through the "Good Reads First Reads Giveaway." Hitler was a master of evil, who twisted a technically advanced and cultured nation into a horrible attempt to dominate the world. This is an honest and sincere attempt to review the impact of WWII on a typical German family. Both my father and father-in-law, risked their lives fighting the Nazi war machine and this made me uncomfortable regarding Germans in general. This book softens my attitude to some degree and allows me to see what the German people went through as well. My curiosity about the average citizen's involvement is answered somewhat. The author does her best to seek complete answers regarding her family history. She is concerned that one family member joined the Nazi party but subsequently letters after the war vindicated his involvement.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennybeast

    I found this account to be both fascinating and moving. It grapples head-on with the unease of being part of a population coming to terms with acknowledging past abuses on a national scale, the topic of reparation and whether that can ever be enough, and the immediacy of identity dysphoria that inherited shame creates. This is a topic that I expect/hope to see more of in the future -- I think America has a lot of buried topics that we need to unearth and confront, and I admire this book as a sor I found this account to be both fascinating and moving. It grapples head-on with the unease of being part of a population coming to terms with acknowledging past abuses on a national scale, the topic of reparation and whether that can ever be enough, and the immediacy of identity dysphoria that inherited shame creates. This is a topic that I expect/hope to see more of in the future -- I think America has a lot of buried topics that we need to unearth and confront, and I admire this book as a sort of personal toolkit for examining difficult topics without flinching away. I think this kind of personal examination is the best possible way forward. It's also a fabulous nonfiction graphic novel, with layers of visuals that add significantly to the context of the narrative.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Costa

    A love letter to Germany, her family, and memories that could have been, Belonging is a painstakingly researched saga of Krug's search to understand her family's role in WWII and the uncle she never met. Not only did I love her art style (especially her full illustrations with photo heads) I loved the honesty with which she approached sharing it with us. The questions she asked and the realities she revealed about Germany after WWII have parallels to America today. I found myself reflecting on h A love letter to Germany, her family, and memories that could have been, Belonging is a painstakingly researched saga of Krug's search to understand her family's role in WWII and the uncle she never met. Not only did I love her art style (especially her full illustrations with photo heads) I loved the honesty with which she approached sharing it with us. The questions she asked and the realities she revealed about Germany after WWII have parallels to America today. I found myself reflecting on how I take part in what is happening, how I am complicit or rebellious. Am I a "Follower" or and "Offender." Sadly, I think these are appropriate questions for the moment we occupy. I'm grateful to Krug for openly sharing her family's experience and doing the hard work in bringing it to life.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I really enjoyed this book. The great details (pictures/information) made me feel like I was there alongside her during her journey. It was such a quick read because I didn't want to put it down. I really wanted to know what she would discover next. Sometimes, when reading books with this subject matter, I can take months to read the whole thing. I think the fact that this was a graphic memoir, it really drew me into the story much more than a typical text-heavy book would have done. I'd recomme I really enjoyed this book. The great details (pictures/information) made me feel like I was there alongside her during her journey. It was such a quick read because I didn't want to put it down. I really wanted to know what she would discover next. Sometimes, when reading books with this subject matter, I can take months to read the whole thing. I think the fact that this was a graphic memoir, it really drew me into the story much more than a typical text-heavy book would have done. I'd recommend this to anyone who is looking to read another viewpoint from the World War II era. I plan to save this for my daughter to read once she's a bit older. (I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Amazingly done - difficult to read at first due to cartoon handwritten format - but once you adjust, you read the author's personal journey of discovery. I would love to communicate with the author as I spent many years during the Cold War as an American child-teenager living there. At that time, the focus was on the communist threat, that was our reason for being there. My classmates and I loved living in Germany. The descriptions of German bread, UHU glue, mushrooms, and more really hit home w Amazingly done - difficult to read at first due to cartoon handwritten format - but once you adjust, you read the author's personal journey of discovery. I would love to communicate with the author as I spent many years during the Cold War as an American child-teenager living there. At that time, the focus was on the communist threat, that was our reason for being there. My classmates and I loved living in Germany. The descriptions of German bread, UHU glue, mushrooms, and more really hit home with me and a country I so loved.

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