SOMEDAY WE’ll TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING is set in 1990 when the Berlin Wall came down. Its been translated. I have friends from East Germany and the stories they tell are amazing. The contrast is stark when compared to my West German sister-in-laws reminiscing. Once I was in SOMEDAY WE’LL TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING, it was hard to put down. Fortunate it isn’t that long! As always, if you’ve read or read it, share your thoughts with us, please.someday we'll tell each other everything

SOMEDAY WE’LL TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This historic cataclysmic event and the flux it causes in the lives of Germans from both sides reflects Maria’s inner turmoil.

One night her boyfriend Johannes takes her to live at his family’s farm.  Maria is a dreamer and unaccustomed to the hard physical work and long hours required.  She stops going to school, prefers to sleep late and read. She and Johannes share the attic bedroom. The spider’s nest as Maria calls it for the spiders that descend nightly on their silken threads.  Her mother and grandparents don’t appear to have a say or a problem with her living at the Brendles’ farm, nor do his parents, Marianne and Sigfried.

It’s at the farm store that Maria meets Henner who lives on the adjoining farm. Henner is forty to Maria’s sixteen. Despite their age difference and the darkness in Henner they begin an affair.  Maria is torn by guilt for deceiving Johannes and his family but feels helpless against the hunger she feels for Henner.  Maria and Henner’s intense affair played out against changes and accompanying fear and adjustments, gives it a disturbing and tragic air.

The past lives of the characters give a chilling insight into life in East Germany. One example was Maria being honored in being chosen to attend the Wilhelm Pieck Pioneer Camp for six weeks during the school year. You didn’t turn this down. Maria’s mother had to ship her the proper items.

There was no end to the rules and regulations: how you were supposed to arrange your clothes over the chair every evening when you undressed, the neckerchief always on top; how to make your bed with military precision’ when you had to get up for early morning exercises, barked at by loudspeakers, which were in every block and throughout the camp grounds.

That was my turning point, something snapped inside me, my resistance dissolved. I felt at one with the others, strong and invincible. It was an uplifting moment, indescribable, and at the same time one of the most unsettling aspects of my entire stay.

When, after six weeks, I came home and sang Russian war songs at the dinner table, my mother, in tears, asked me, “What on earth have they done to you?” I cried and missed my friends. It took me a while to get used to being at home again, and my yearning for camplife eventually turned into a rejection of everything collective.

SOMEDAY WE’LL TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING is a fascinating glimpse into life on the other side before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The characters are realistic. The way they were shaped by their circumstances and environment, not knowing who you could trust when your own spouse could be working with the Stasi. What a way to live.  The changes in them, their communities, and livelihoods, all these made for interesting reading.

It may be a cultural difference but the lack of parental say and control in Maria living at the farm with Johannes was troubling.

This and other events make Maria seem mature beyond her sixteen years yet I hesitate to call SOMEDAY WE’LL TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING a love story, despite its billing as that. An affair with such a pronounced age gap is unsettling and despite her seeming maturity feels wrong, a train wreck in the making, but compelling.

All in all Maria’s story is addicting.

4 stars