Yesterday’s Enemies

Written by Erika M. Feiner
Review by Marcia K. Matthews

Description and characterization build the story of a young girl who is glad to be alive, yet sad that her country’s own soldiers are destroying the bridge and the village because the Americans are coming. In Germany, spring of 1945, Lisa is 17. She suffers from hunger and nightmares, but her youthful spirits rise when she sees a handsome American. “…his eyes were blue. Deep blue and remarkable, like the sky on a clear, sharp winter morning, with tiny crinkles around the outer corners made by laughter, by smiles.”

She recalls hiking with her father as a child and hearing his wise words. She experienced “a kind of holy feeling squeezing my throat.” Her father shared with her the books that let her look through “magic windows”. Some sentences are left in German syntax, and you can hear her voice in them.

Andy’s friends call them “Sarge-the-Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood.” The fairy tale motif augments the romance, complete with a gypsy’s omen. This first person narrative has autobiographical elements, but the arc of the story is universal: teenage girl in love with older man. Her parents are afraid he’ll get her pregnant and abandon her.

Lisa argues with the cook in the mess hall that the Fatherland is different from the Heimatland (homeland): the militaristic state vs. the earth herself. He retorts that it would take wise men a century to redeem Germany, but he is won over by her naive idealism.

Feiner’s skill at showing an all-encompassing passion carves out deep emotional territory. She zooms in to an intimate close-up of a towering love affair. With lyrical words she paints the scene, every loving touch in the playful games of young lovers.