The House of One Thousand Eyes
Life in East Germany in the early 1980s is not easy for most people, but for Lena, it’s particularly hard. After the death of her parents in a factory explosion and time spent in a psychiatric hospital recovering from the trauma, she is sent to live with her stern aunt, a devoted member of the ruling Communist Party. Visits with her beloved Uncle Erich, a best-selling author, are her only respite.
But one night, her uncle disappears without a trace. Gone also are all his belongings, his books, and even his birth records. Lena is desperate to know what happened to him, but it’s as if he never existed.
The worst thing, however, is that she cannot discuss her uncle or her attempts to find him with anyone, not even her best friends. There are government spies everywhere. But Lena is unafraid and refuses to give up her search, regardless of the consequences.
This searing novel about defiance, courage, and determination takes readers into the chilling world of a society ruled by autocratic despots, where nothing is what it seems.
The book starts out with Lena living with her aunt who is crazy dedicated to East Germany and demands that Lena is as well. Lena's parents had died in a freight car factory "accident" and when Lena had a breakdown because of it, she was sent to live in a mental institution. Her aunt who she calls "Sausage Auntie" got her out, so she should be grateful to her...right? The only time Lena actually cherishes is with her Uncle Erich, who writes books and teaches her to have a vivid imagination. But one day she goes to visit her Uncle, and everyone is telling her he no longer exists. Lena can't find his books in the library and a man is living in his apartment that he said he's been in for years! Lena knows she's not crazy. She knows her Uncle existed. So she risks her life to find out the truth about what happened.
This book never stopped surprising me. I was shocked at how strong of a character Lena was. She started out the book small and frightened and ended it as one of the bravest heroines I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. Throughout the book she goes through some tough trials, the most prominent being sexual assault by a General she calls "Herr Dreck" at the place she works. Yet, she still preservers. She does what's right and not what's easy. She ends up risking her life multiple times in this book instead of staying silent and safe. She doesn't accept her fate, but she demands the truth. It was a powerful read for sure. And that ending was one that I did not expect. It definitely wasn't wrapped up in a bow. Lena taught me that there are more important things than saving yourself.