This post contains affiliate links. One of the ways I get my reading in is by listening to audios when I’m walking on the treadmill. Normally, this works fine, but for some books, the experience would be better had I read the book instead. Such is the case with The Unanswered Letter by Faris Cassell.
About The Unanswered Letter by Faris Cassell
One day, Faris Cassell’s husband, a physician, receives a letter from a patient. It is a letter the patient found in her parents’ attic. In the letter, a Jewish couple, the Bergers, who lived in Germany in 1939 and were Jewish, requested assistance getting out of Germany. They asked this Berger family in the United States, who was of no relation, to sponsor them so they could escape and join their daughter and her husband in the United States.
The American Bergers never answered the letter..
Cassell is intrigued by the letter. She decides to research what happened to the couple. Over many years, she makes contact with the Berger family, does extensive research, and ultimately tells the story of the entire Berger family during that critical time in history.
My Thoughts on the Book
I loved the premise of this book, but the execution failed for me, especially in audiobook format. The first 1/4 or 1/3 of the book is the writer wondering what to do about the letter and whether she should research it. She reaches out to who she hopes is a relative of the Bergers and obsessively starts contacting her. Cassell even worries the woman will accuse her of being a stalker. Finally, the person calls Cassell back, and the author starts on a multi-year journey to discover what happened to the Bergers.
I found this book dry, unfortunately. The Bergers’ extended family eventually grants the author access to the family’s extensive collection of letters, which Cassell shares verbatim. I found that a bit tedious.
Instead, I would have preferred to hear much less about Cassell’s thought process and more about the family. I also wish there was some way to present the story in a smoother way.
When Cassell takes a trip to Europe to see the various sites important to the Berger family, the story picked up and became more interesting. However, overall, I think this could have been a fascinating book–just not in the format it was written in. If you do want to read this book, I’d recommend reading it rather than listening to it on audio.
I give The Unanswered Letter by Faris Cassell 3 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.