Often, the market for Jewish literature seems saturated with books about the Holocaust. However, even among this plethora of often complex and fascinating narratives, Angelika Schrobsorff’s “You Are Not Like Other Mothers” (originally titled “Du bist nicht so wie andere Mutter” in German; translated by Steve Rendell) shines as a book that must be read.
“You Are Not Like Other Mothers” focuses a great deal on life before Hitler’s reign of terror. Schrobsdorff writes of her mother, Else, a headstrong, free-spirited woman who has vowed to have a child with every man that she loves — and Else falls in love frequently. Schrobsdorff does an eloquent job of portraying her mother as a human being, torn between her own desires and the needs of herself and her family.
Schrobsdorff later inserts herself as a character, and that is where the book becomes somewhat more difficult to read. She often switches between referring to herself in the third and first persons, and cannot decide whether to focus more on her mother or on her own narrative. Despite these flaws, the reader is still able to see Schrobsdorff grow from a shy, “complicated” child into a moody adolescent and then, eventually, into a headstrong and free-spirited adult in her own right.
Although this book sometimes seems to ramble, it is altogether a coherent and entertaining read. While it may not be finished in one afternoon, the reader will be glad to have taken the time to muster through this real and engaging narrative.
Review by Bernie Hodkin