I'd like to thank Sonja Herbert for introducing me to her memoir, Carnival Girl: Searching for God in the Aftermath of War, and for inviting me to join her Blog Tour.
Carnival Girl tells about Sonja's childhood in post-WWII Germany. Her father ran a carnival, so she and her siblings were raised in a caravan and traveled around the country. They made stops in many of the same towns each year, but weren't in any one place very long. It made schooling and making friends difficult.
Many times during the memoir I was very saddened by Sonja's life, especially the way she was treated by her mother. While Sonja doesn't have resentment toward her Mutti, her memories of the negative times were so clear that I couldn't help but think about the importance of using kind words. The Hymn Nay, Speak No Ill came to my mind, and I thought a lot about how I treat my children.
Even though Sonja had many struggles, the book was quite positive. Sonja wasn't dwelling on the negative situations, and through realizing that she has a Heavenly Father who loves her, she had a lot of hope.
Sonja's mom is half-Jewish and hiding for her life during WWII took a toll on her. I asked Sonja about her mother's background and their relationship, and this is what she had to say:
When I was a little girl, traveling in our small carnival caravan, I often listened to my mother talking about how she used to be a model in Berlin, the greatest city of Europe, and how she had to leave and hire on with the circus in order to stay ahead of the Nazis.
During the few times we carnival children attended school, I once received an A for a story about a Greek myth I had written, and on that day I decided to write about my mother’s life when I grew up.
All through the time I raised my six children here in the U.S.A., this thought was with me, and when the younger ones were a bit older, I started on my mother’s story. As the story unfolded, I realized that it would not be complete unless I also told my own story, the story of my childhood and my life with my mother.
And that’s how Carnival Girl began. I originally called it Conversations with Margot (my mother’s first name), but since the novel I wrote about her life isn’t quite finished yet, I decided to re-name the memoir and publish it first.
As I wrote the memoir and remembered the things that happened in my early life, old feelings returned, and I had to confront the childish assumptions of my younger self. Now, as a grown woman, I am able to see things I had not seen as a little girl, and when my memoir was finished, I had a new insight and understanding for my mother, who had suffered so much and still came out ahead.
My mother, Margot, is now ninety-one years old. She lives in Stuttgart, Germany, and is still going strong!
Thank you Mutti, for everything you have taught me!
Carnival Girl was published by Cedar Fort in June and can be purchased through their website, Deseret Book, or Amazon (you can also read excerpts on Cedar Fort and Amazon).