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For readers of Warlight and The Invisible Bridge, an intimate, harrowing story about a family of German citizens during World War II.
Included in the New York Times Book Review's Summer Reading Guide for Historical Fiction
“There was no shelter without her sons.”
In 1945, as the war in Germany nears its violent end, the Huber family is not yet free of its dangers or its insidious demands. Etta, a mother from a small, rural town, has two sons serving their home country: her elder, Max, on the Eastern front, and her younger, Georg, at a school for Hitler Youth. When Max returns from the front, Etta quickly realizes that something is not right-he is thin, almost ghostly, and behaving very strangely. Etta strives to protect him from the Nazi rule, even as her husband, Josef, becomes more nationalistic and impervious to Max's condition. Meanwhile, miles away, her younger son Georg has taken his fate into his own hands, deserting his young class of battle-bound soldiers to set off on a long and perilous journey home.
The Vanishing Sky is a World War II novel as seen through a German lens, a story of the irreparable damage of war on the home front, and one family's participation-involuntary, unseen, or direct-in a dangerous regime. Drawing inspiration from her own father's time in the Hitler Youth, L. Annette Binder has crafted a spellbinding novel about the choices we make for country and for family.
“The challenge in humanizing the Western world’s most tortured history proves no match for Binder’s intellect, compassion, and unflinching gaze; one gets the feeling this writer, in the stunning precision of her painterly details, would prove virtuosic with any material she was handed to use. A hugely ambitious novel whose consummate, patient artistry is moving beyond measure." —Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
“In her intimate and epic debut novel, L Annette Binder lifts the lid on one family’s darkest story to offer vital insight into daily life under the last days of the Third Reich. The Vanishing Sky is a heartrending and blazingly lucid depiction of Nazi Germany as not a simple monolith of evil but as an oppressive, fanatical political regime that was encountered, accommodated, rejected, and survived by ordinary people, people just like you and me.” —Miriam Toews, author of Women Talking
“L. Annette Binder’s The Vanishing Sky is so fiercely imagined, so wondrously conjured, that what you hold not only pulls you into its history but into a world of pure yearning, determination, struggle, and hope. This is a story—in all its rich layers—that dazzles, breaks your heart, clutches you, and gets you back up again. I’m grateful to have experienced it, and grateful to Binder for the gift she has given us.” —Paul Yoon, author of The Mountain
“Readers of The Nightingale and All The Light We Cannot See are going to embrace The Vanishing Sky.” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN
“The Vanishing Sky is at once a fascinating, unique and thought-provoking look at WWII . . . the book reveals once again: war has no winners. The Vanishing Sky belongs at the top of all readers’ TBR stack!” —Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA
“The Vanishing Sky is a gripping, unsettling, and heart-breaking glimpse into the final days of Nazi Germany, from the point of view of a mother about to lose everything. This book is sitting on my heart. It is a must read, a page-turning, evocative (I can picture it, scene by scene!) novel about motherhood, war, the end of boyhood, shame, and the unexpected things that endure. This will absolutely appeal to readers of All the Light We Cannot See and Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum.” —Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA
“An incredibly moving and personal look at the destruction of Germany that ultimately ended the war, Binder tackles a range of issues within countries and families. In the realm of historical fiction, The Vanishing Sky is a true standout.” —Carl Kranz, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA
“An intimate, somber and gutting portrayal of lives ravaged by war and the mental and physical anguish that tears one German family apart. Isolated in their experiences, yet the overarching yearning for all that once was binds them and those that surround their journeys together. In the darkest of moments, kindness shines from the despair and the flicker of humanity cannot be extinguished no matter how great the harm.” —Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Assistant Librarian, Neill Public Library and Influencer @WanderingBookseller
“A powerfully gut-wrenching and beautifully told war story from the perspective of a German family in the last months of WW2. The writing is dynamic and Binder's tale of a family with two sons; a runaway from Hitler's Youth School and the other fighting on the Eastern front, held me spellbound throughout. We seldom have the opportunity to read about innocent German families and their personal experiences of war. Binder's extraordinary novel has opened my eyes and heart and I will carry this story with me for quite awhile.” —Penny McConnel, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT
“Binder's writing gives a clear visual and emotional picture of the innocent casualties of war." —Chris Upton, A Freethinkers Corner, Dover, NH
"This is a book about what happens when war infects a nation, a city, a village, a family—something comes in and breaks what was once whole. Binder shows us just how powerful small moments of kindness and connection can be, in prose as soft, rhythmic, and beautiful as falling snow.” —Molly Moore, BookPeople, Austin, TX
“In the interwoven journeys of one family, separated by distances both actual and immaterial, Annette Binder helps us understand the realities of the German people during WWII. The reader sympathizes with a family who's been pulled into the sinister machinations of their nation while questioning how much knowledge they have about their government and its intentions. The Vanishing Sky asks the reader traverse the divide between a regime and the people who do its bidding.” —Laura Kendall, Second Flight Books, Lafayette, IN
“I did not want to leave the characters of Annette Binder’s The Vanishing Sky. The story of an ordinary German family coping with the hopelessness of war, leading up to the inevitable conclusion of World War II, we travel through the individual and conjoined journeys of this family, each excruciatingly poignant.” —Barbara Morrow, Northshire