Nine-year old Liesel Steffens' charming world is shattered one sunny Spring morning in front of her house in Bottrop, Germany, 1951, when a handsome Neighbor returns "home." Proud Liesel parades the man inside to celebrate her idol--her late father--certainly the hero who saved the Neighbor's infant son during Kristallnacht, also know as "The Night of Broken Glass." Liesel is whisked away to her room while her mother ejects the Jew from their home.
When the young girl discovers that her father was a German Nationalist, and one of Hitler's Loyal Lieutentants, she questions:
- How could her parents be part of such unspeakable evil?
- Was Liesel herself so wicked?
- Was she too a German Nationalist, destined to carry out the Party's and her parents' hideous mission?
- Should Liesel turn her back on her parents? Could she love them anymore?
- Could she love herself? Who is she? Who are our "Neighbors?" Who are we?
The Neighbor's Son is a coming-of-age story of a generation of unknowing Germans who wear the "Yellow Star" of guilt and shame. Liesel questions her identity from skin-to-soul and begins a lifelong journey that spans three continents. More important, this candid, gripping story chroncles Liesel's search for self, truth, family, guilt, forgiveness, and justice.
Wunschkind, an adaptation of Liesel's memoir was written for tweens, and requested by Rabbi Ratner of Asheville, NC, to be used as a teaching tool.
Liesel's life story delivers a different look at the darkest time in our history. In light of recent events, again in the aftermath of a repressive regime, the populace faces (or doesn’t face) the reality of their acquiescence to terror. A civilized nation becomes willing to scapegoat a minority, citizens stand by as their neighbor’s rights are eroded, and patriotism becomes equated with non-dissent.