The vanishing sky by L. Annette Binder
Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781526616715.
(Age: Adolescent - Adult)This is an extraordinarily chilling story, beautifully written and deftly constructed to expose the reality for one particular family living in a country town in Germany, seemingly towards the end of the Second World War. We learn how they experienced the growing lack of food, and of the money to buy it, Binder describing their response to the horror of the bombs that were dropped intermittently in the early part of this story, this terrifying situation becoming more frequent as the narrative progresses.
Binder positions us to understand the emotions experienced by the people, particularly the fear and the dwindling hope experienced by one particular family - Etta, Josef, and their children, Max and Georg. Josef suffers deeply from his emotional response to the events, his fear preventing him doing much at all, and it falls to Etta to work out how to provide them with food. While the boys are taught some basic skills and then expected to work in a supporting role for the army, we understand that while this is seemingly apt for Georg, it is dreadfully overwhelming for Max.
Ultimately, the narrative plunges us into the darkness of 'ordinary' life in Germany at that time, as we are made aware of the outcome of the increasing number of bombing raids, the growing lack of food supplies, the fear that they all experience, and the terror of the bombs. Undoubtedly this was a terribly harsh and frightening time for all the people of Europe, Binder suggesting that while they knew something of the actual state of the war, their focus was definitely on survival. This stunning new work would be appropriate for adolescent and adult readers.