Carnival Girl – Book Review

Post world war 2, life is still difficult and the people are very poor in Germany.  Sonja Herbert tells her true story about being raised in a traveling carnival  by her parents, who used the carnival to hide from the Nazi’s during the war.

I started out reading this book expecting it to be about Mutti (the mother).  As much as Mutti had a hard life that I can’t even comprehend, I found her attitude towards her children a wake up call.  Sonja’s every memory is of her mother whining about being too cramped inside their trailer.  Whining about kids being around all the time, and being poor.  As a mother it makes me realize how aware our children are of what our attitudes are and we need to be positive and loving towards them no matter the circumstances.  I get the impression from Sonja’s point of view that she wasn’t treated nicely by her siblings (what kids ever are) but that it impacted her self esteem in a major way.  Whenever she doubts herself she thinks, well my siblings think I am stupid, so it must be true.  As a mother this makes me want to cry.

I love stories about world war 2 but I have never read a story that begins where the war story ends.  We always view it as a happy ending when in reality it was still very hard to build their lives back up again.  I can’t imagine growing up wondering what the inside of a house looked like.  A world where birth control didn’t exist and another child meant another mouth to desperately try to feed.  Sonja and her siblings would attend a new school every week in whatever town they visited.  I imagine her shock at finding free books to read in a youth center.  Like her, I would find that as a personal haven as well.

I liked the perspective of the post war story and it was an interesting take.  I wish that Sonja told more about her life as an adult.  I would have loved to hear about how she moved to America and what her thoughts were about life there.  I would like to know about her getting married, going to school, having kids.

Sonja believes the story to be about her mother, but I believe the story is more about her.  I think the cover is beautiful, I would buy it on that basis alone.  This is truly a unique story not for the weak at heart.  I would love to be able to talk to Sonja more about her life.