Wunderland tells the story in the past and present, through three women. Ava, a woman whose mother, Ilse was severely impacted by her actions during WW2. Through Renate’s story, Ilse’s best friend, we learn more of what happened between the two of them, and the decisions Ilse made that severely impacted Renate’s life.
We start off with a grown-up Ava, who has just received letters from her mother that were addressed to someone else but never sent. Ava’s relationship with her mother isn’t the best. She left Ava in an orphanage for a period of time, and she has always been distant. She doesn’t answer questions about Ava’s father or her past. Ava is hoping that through these letters, she will learn more of her mother and her past. We’re not sure why Ilse chose to do anything she did until much later in the book as her story unfolds.
The story is told a lot through Renate’s eyes. Renate and Ilse had become fast friends but as tensions in Europe are rising, we watch their friendship start to break apart. As Renate tries to figure out her place in this world, so does Ilse, but through completely different means. Ilse turns into someone unrecognizable.
In the beginning of Wunderland, I wasn’t sure who exactly Ava was, it was a bit confusing tying her to the underlying story. But once I read more, the story started to pick up and things clicked into place. We learn of the things so many people took for granted, things that Jewish people could no longer do because of Hitler’s reign. I love historical fiction and I think the author did a great job with the research, and with incorporating fact and fiction to make a good story.