Title: Carnival Girl
Author: Sonja Herbert
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.