The Dark Room, the first novel by Rachel Sieffert, tells the story of three ordinary Germans living in twentieth-century Germany -- before, during, and after World War II. These stories recreate the drama and intricacy of the German existence with their ephemeral, dark beauty, making The Dark Room a perfect read for a cold winter day.
Helmut is born without his right pectoral muscle which leaves him slightly handicapped and never quite believing that he measures up or fits in. Lore is a young girl who must gather her siblings and go illegally search of her grandmother while hiding from soldiers that surround her (reminiscent of Dicey in Homecoming by Cynthia Voight; for those readers who feel a special affinity for this story, I recommend you that one also). Micha finds that as he grows older he wants to learn more about his family history. He unwittingly uncovers a family secret and is obsessed with finding the full story, no matter the consequences.
Seiffert has an intensive, flowing writing style. She thoroughly describes each scene in as few words as possible as each story builds towards its climax. Seiffert's superb writing makes this one of the best books of the year; it's surprising that Oprah didn't substitute this book for The Corrections. The Dark Room is a must read not only for those interested in the Holocaust and its aftereffects, but also for those keenly interested in the human experience. Within just a few pages Seiffert manages to take the reader through the gamut of emotions, from sympathy, pity, anger and bitterness to hope, love and joy. Rachel Seiffert should enjoy a long and fruitful career as a writer if she can continue putting out first-rate writing like this.