In the summer of 1961, a wall of barbed wire goes up quickly in the dead of night, officially dividing Berlin. Aware of the many whose families have been divided, Luisa joins a secret spy network, risking her life to help East Germans escape across the Berlin Wall and into the West.
Bob Inama, a soldier in the US Army, is stationed in West Germany. He’s glad to be fluent in German, especially after meeting Luisa Voigt at a church social. As they spend time together, they form a close connection. But when Bob receives classified orders to leave for undercover work immediately, he doesn’t get the chance to say goodbye.
With a fake identity, Bob’s special assignment is to be a spy embedded in East Germany, identifying possible targets for the US military. But Soviet and East German spies, the secret police, and Stasi informants are everywhere, and the danger of being caught and sent to a brutal East German prison lurks on every corner.
Best-selling author Heather B. Moore masterfully alternates the stories of Bob and Luisa, capturing the human drama unique to Cold War Germany was well as the courage and the resilience of the human spirit.
***Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
enjoyable/easy to read:
The Slow March of Light is based on the true story of Bob Inama, an American prisoner of war in Germany during the Cold War. It was great that the story began before he was drafted into the army, so we get to see his whole journey from soldier to spy.
Unfortunately, Bob came off a little one-dimensional. I think this could be due to the difficulty of writing a fictional account of a real person’s experiences, but he was the cookie-cutter good American boy. Bob seemed to excel at everything with very little effort, and his faith was so steadfast that he never wavered in his beliefs despite being imprisoned and tortured for months. I do not doubt that Bob was a good person but no one is that good. Everyone is flawed, and if we had been allowed to see some of Bob’s, he would have been a more well-rounded and interesting character.
The character of Luisa is based on a real acquaintance Bob made while he is in Frankfurt but is mostly a fictional character. I think Moore had more freedom to be creative with Luisa since she didn’t have to worry about misrepresenting a real person. So, while Luisa is still overwhelmingly good, like Bob, she did struggle more when it came to making the right choices – especially when these decisions force her to hide things from her father, the police officer. This made her a more realistic and relatable character, so while I was intrigued by Bob’s storyline, I was more drawn to Luisa’s as the narrative continued.
I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction around the Cold War or the erection of the Berlin Wall (my only other attempt ended in a DNF, unfortunately), so it was interesting to read about a time in history that I don’t know well. However, the story was a little too tedious and one-dimensional for me.