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Writers Inspiring Change feature book review: Everything We Lose: A Civil War Novel...

Annette does it again! I had the pleasure of reviewing her novel, Surviving the Fatherland last year, which went on to become a best seller, and now, this new novel is yet another masterpiece of storytelling. Everything We Lose is a brutal rendering about the lives of two boys, Adam and Tip, a friendship forged near the beginning of America's civil war. Adam, the son of a poor white farmer who went off to war to fight against slavery, and Tip, an Afro-American slave on a nearby rich estate, are caught in the midst of America's hateful racism. In an attempt to defend Tip from brutality at the hands of his "owners", Adam is forced to flee his home and eventually joins the Union to fight against slavery, following in his father's footsteps. Meanwhile, Tip yearns for freedom and sets off on his own harrowing journey to find it. The two stories are extremely moving, gut-wrenching at times, and the lucidity of its descriptions and the scenario of war over the principles of equality and justice are weaved throughout the book in a way that reminds us that such base motives as hatred and racism have no place in a true democracy. Just when you think there is light at the end of the tunnel, when relief is in sight, the author casts you back into the murk, but there is always the one constant which these two friends refuse to let go of - hope! An excellent read with an excellent message.

Review by International Writers Inspiring Change

About Annette Oppenlander

Tell us about yourself. I grew up in Germany and earned an MBA in business from the University of Cologne before meeting my American husband at a Super Bowl party in Wichita, KS. We married a year later in 1988 and I’ve lived in the U.S. ever since.

What prompted you to become a writer? I began writing in the 1990’s and at some point noticed how great I felt doing it. After interviewing my parents about their experience as war children, I began to write down their memories for our family. In 2009, after attending a fiction-writing workshop at Indiana University, I created a first novel. It took seven more years of writing, studying, and writing some more, to see my first book published.

What do readers like about your writing? Readers often comment that they were right ‘there,’ with the hero in the action. Others say they learned something new about the era or a historical figure. I’m humbled when I hear these comments and they spurn me on to do even better with my next story.

Is there a message weaved into your writing? I like to write true stories or stories based on historical figures and events. I think it is a way for us to truly experience history and I hope my readers will learn something new. Our history informs what and who we are today as a people and hopefully, informs our decisions so that history does not repeat itself.

What is it that you want to inspire in others or change in the world through your writing? I would love for my readers to walk away from a story with something new added to their world view. I’d be proud if I have contributed just the tiniest sliver of information, or make my reader think about the world I created after they finished reading. Tell us about your most recent book and why you wrote it? SURVIVING THE FATHERLAND has been in the works for 15 years. In 2002 I interviewed my parents who were children in Germany’s Third Reich. I wanted to illuminate that part of history that shows how war changes children and how it influences a person long term. Both kids went through hell through no fault of their own. The war and the way their families and government treated them changed them for life. As a German-American who’s lived in the US and Germany, I think I have a unique perspective and I wanted their stories known.

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