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Book Review :: All for You by Dena Rueb Romero

Dena Rueb Romero’s memoir, All for You, tells an incredible story about a love affair between the author’s German Lutheran mother, Deta, and German Jewish father, Emil, a relationship that began in pre-Nazi Germany and lasted until Emil’s death in 1980. As Romero recounts in her intro, she learned details about her parents’ liaison when she was house-sitting for her mom and discovered letters that documented their seven-year wartime separation.

The book, part political and part social history, covers the growth of Nazism in Europe. But this is also a highly personal story: Deta’s 1937 emigration to England and her subsequent work as a nanny were acts of anti-Hitler resistance. Nonetheless, as a German citizen, her loyalties were questioned and she was imprisoned as an “enemy alien.”

Emil’s story – his emigration to the US and his work as a photographer in Hanover, New Hampshire – both lucky breaks, offers additional insights into who got out of Germany and why. Still, there is tragedy here; although Emil and Deta reunited in 1946, he was unable to get his parents, sister, or brother-in-law out of Germany, a reality that cast an ever-present pall on his relationships and business dealings.

All told, All for You not only documents an enduring, if troubled, love, but offers insights into trauma and survival.

All for You by Dena Rueb Romero. She Writes Press, May 2024.

Reviewer bio: Eleanor J. Bader is a Brooklyn, NY-based journalist who writes about books and domestic social issues for Truthout, Rain Taxi, The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Indypendent.

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