Reviewer Janice Ottersberg says In Our Midst, “is a close look at America’s German internment camps, including how the government justified them and the lengths gone to in keeping them secret. In many ways, the conditions in the camps and the treatment of the prisoners can be compared to a Nazi prison camp or a Stalin Gulag. This cruel treatment often tested the American loyalty of prisoners, causing many to join the militant Nazi factions developing within the camps. The Aust men tread a line between compliance with the camp rules and avoiding the bullying Nazi followers in order to survive.”
I’d love to join in conversation with any book club that adopts In Our Midst.
Today is publication day for In Our Midst! Alas, none of us can be in public spaces right now for anything like a reading, a Q&A, and a launch party–but I have a computer, a headset and a serviceable built-in voice recorder, so I have created a short reading you might enjoy.
What you’ll hear are the last two pages of the first chapter of In Our Midst. The scene is set in the Aust Family Restaurant, during a midday St. Nikolas Day celebration on December 7, 1941. Click here to listen.
Drawing upon a long-suppressed episode in American history, when thousands of German immigrants were rounded up and interned following the attack on Pearl Harbor, In Our Midst tells the story of one family’s fight to cling to the ideals of freedom and opportunity that brought them to America.
Nina and Otto Aust, along with their teenage sons, feel the foundation of their American lives crumbling when, in the middle of the annual St. Nikolas Day celebration in the Aust Family Restaurant, their most loyal customers, one after another, turn their faces away and leave without a word. The next morning, two FBI agents seize Nina by order of the president, and the restaurant is ransacked in a search for evidence of German collusion.
Ripped from their sons and from each other, Nina and Otto are forced to weigh increasingly bitter choices to stay together and stay alive. Recalling a forgotten chapter in history, In Our Midst illuminates a nation gripped by suspicion, fear, and hatred strong enough to threaten all bonds of love―for friends, family, community, and country.
My thanks go out to Sarah Blakeley-Cartwright, Publishing Director for Chicago Review of Books, for inviting me to be one of their Instagram resident authors, which means I’ll be sharing glimpses of In Our Midst on their Instagrameach day, April 21-28. Watch for an introduction of me and In Our Midst on April 21, followed each day for the next week by photos related to places, people, and historical artifacts that inspired my story and its characters.