Deviation is a 1979 Italian autobiographical novel now translated in English. Luce D’Eramo comes from a privileged, fascist Italian family. In 1944 at the age of 18 and after the collapse of Fascism, she heard rumors of the brutalities that Nazis were committing in the concentration camps, but these reports didn’t line up with her Nazi/Fascist beliefs. Throughout the book she makes many naïve and foolish choices. The first was to enlist as a volunteer worker in a Nazi labor camp to discover the truth for herself. What she witnessed was unbelievable human degradation and suffering. In the camp she incites resistance which leads to her repatriation back to Italy. Instead of going home, she makes another reckless decision to mix with a group of deportees boarding a train to Dachau. After an escape from Dachau, she is in Mainz when it is bombed. It is here she is seriously injured and paralyzed while helping to rescue others.
Nearly ten years later, D’Eramo writes of her experiences in four parts. The reader reads each part in a non-chronological timeline in the order each was written. This makes it a challenging read and difficult to follow. The first part starts midway―about her life in Dachau and her escape. The second continues with her accident and her subsequent paralysis and recovery. The third goes to the beginning to recount her work as a volunteer in the labor camp, her repatriation to Italy, and her deportation to Dachau. Finally, the fourth part reads as a memoir where she tries to reconcile and understand what she experienced, evaluate her choices, and work through her memories. This is not the usual WWII story. It is for a serious, thoughtful reader and demands a second reading to get a real grasp of it. Deviation is book that will stick with you.