Cover Image: When Time Stopped

When Time Stopped

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Member Reviews

The author of this memoir was born in Venezuela, but now lives in London, England.  She knew her Jewish father was born and raised in Czechoslovakia and was there during World War II.  Almost all of his family perished under the Nazis, but he would never talk about his experiences or how he managed to survive as a young man.  Upon his death she was left a box of his papers and starting with these she began to piece together his story.  As she delved deeper and reached out to descendants of the names of people in those first papers, she learned his story, including how he hid under the enemies nose in Berlin using a false identity.  This is a fascinating read and a wonderful recommendation for historical fiction fans who want to read the real thing.
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Memoirs are always hard to review since you’re not evaluating character development, pacing, etc. So, I’ll focus on the writing and the overall picture Ariana Neumann is painting.

When Time Stopped is Ariana Neumann’s research into her father’s past after finding a box of documents that once belonged to him. After combing through the documents and talking to family members she didn’t know were related to her, When Time Stopped paints the picture of a Jewish family doing everything in their power to save themselves from the atrocities of the Second World War. 

I thought When Time Stopped would focus almost solely on Hans Neumann, her father, instead it focuses on his family in general and the bleak picture of Europe leading up to and during World War Two. Sometimes Ariana Neumann paints too broad of a picture and gets lost in the details of names and locations making it difficult to follow at times. I had to refer to the family tree at the beginning of the novel multiple times since the Neumann family is a big one.

At around the halfway mark of the novel, Neumann introduces large passages of a memoir her father had started writing before he passed. These are easily the best parts of the memoir. Hans Neumann’s writing rings as authentic in its details of life during the Second World War and his emotional state. It’s truly inspiring and humbling reading his story from his own words. Had he finished his own memoir, I would I have likened it to Night by Elie Wiesel.

When Time Stopped is an engaging historical account of World War Two as told through the eyes of a Jewish family doing everything possible to survive. Their incredible strength and resilience will stay with me forever. Through the inclusion of photos and documents, the Neumann family history is brought to light.
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