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Book Review: The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back by Maria Sutton

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Why is it so important to know about people of long ago? Is it because our minds are a collected cache of generations past? Do we think the way we do today because their sacred voices continue to sing within our personalities? It is this possibility that urges us to know them.

Maria Sutton’s The Night Sky is an emboldened quest for a woman born at the end of the Second World War. She hopes to reconnect with lost relatives, particularly her true biological father, Jozef. War in any form is horrific and the weighty devastation it unloads physically and mentally on all who survive is difficult to imagine. What of the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons?

Maria Sutton’s mission to locate her real father is justifiably obsessive. She imagines this man as a handsome muscular hero figure, a brave man, yet one sensitive to the same starlit beauty of The Night Sky under which she often stands. Since he would have been present in those days when Hitler’s Blitzkrieg overran Poland and much of Europe, she imagines her father Jozef as a man of valor, a brave soldier, possibly even a pilot flying missions against the invading Luftwaffe.

Traveling from her home in the United States, Maria roams back through Europe hunting clues to her father’s life and whereabouts. Her travels take her across Poland, Germany, and the Ukraine. She visits city after city searching through lists of displaced persons and the sickening records of people who were gassed and turned to ash in the ovens at the Dachau death camp. Months turn into years.

Eventually, she locates a probable trail and even photographs of her father and grandfather. Yet, one question continues to haunt her. If her father possessed all the loving qualities she has attributed to him, what could possibly force him to desert his family? Bit by bit, she narrows her search, “but instead of Jozef emerging as a valiant hero, the pieces were now showing Mom as an indomitable, resilient woman with quiet courage” who brought her children through so many crises.

To find out the true story of Maria’s mother and father, read The Night Sky. Maria’s courage will seize your imagination as you trek with her seeking truth about a hideous wartime past. At 224 pages the book is an easy quick read. Throughout, it contains a number of fascinating family and historical war photos. I could not help but wonder how people, who survived the war years, ever had the audacity to move on. Ultimately, The Night Sky is a gratifying story — a true revelation of the human spirit.

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