Erin Faith Allen has released a new book, The In Between. The book documents her journey through Eastern Europe, concentration camps, and the recovery of Latvian soldiers still missing since World War II.
This book is unlike any other I’ve read. It is part art book, trip diary, personal journal, and transformational guidance. I love how raw Erin is in her words and emotions. She tells us what she is experiencing and how it feels. Most of us might write about a journey we took and hit the highlights. Few of us would go as deep as Erin did in describing how each moment affected us or helped us release the past. It is incredible.
It is not a book that I feel can be read in one sitting. It is something to be read in pieces. Savored. Considered. With time to process what we have read and seen in her artwork, and what is in our own lives and experiences. It took me several days to move through this book. At each stop point, I had reached a personal point in which I needed to think about what Erin had said and expressed in her photos and art.
Erin asks tough questions and explores tough themes in her book. These revolve around Nazis, Germany in World War II, the Holocaust, the missing and dead from all countries, civilians under German or Soviet occupation. She also delves into deeper, darker topics like aggression of soldiers, rape of women, and treatment of mankind. I applaud her for exploring these themes in her work.
Erin’s words and art pose many questions which I feel readers should consider. There may be some people who would not consider this a suitable book club book, but I disagree. Here are some questions to consider as you read through this incredible book.
- Erin’s raw words explain how this trip changed her life and helped her move through a break-up. How has travel changed your life, particularly when you were moving through a tough time?
- Erin opens the long closed can of worms regarding Nazis, occupation, rape, treatment of people. Should we be talking more about these topics in relation to what our ancestor’s experiences were and how they affect us today or should we still be keeping secrets?
- Related to that, women are still experiencing rape and mistreatment in society. More are speaking out, we see marches and movements taking place in the last couple of years. How do these topics from the past or today affect your family? Are you exploring this, talking about it, and healing the past and present? Or is there still a lot of shame, guilt, and other negative emotion surrounding these topics that we still cannot talk of them?
- How does art – in any medium – change us? Help us transform? Help us release the past and heal? Do you create to process your emotions?
- What do you think of how history was written after the war and even today? Consider what was said, what was left out, and how the “truth” of what was can sometimes be hidden under the rug.
- Finally, how did this book change you?
Personally, this book changed me on many levels. I research World War II, but not in the same way Erin does. Her work has taken her into the darker areas of the war’s history. A place I have barely dipped my toes into. I am not ready to really go there. I applaud Erin for having the courage to go there AND to tell the stories. Her book inspired me to take another look at a book I have been writing about part of my own life. I’m more willing to finish my book and be raw and vulnerable now that I have read Erin’s book. It is truly inspiring.
Read more about the WWII experience and how some people process the information or experience in my article, Are You Exploring the Entire Combat Experience?
© 2018 World War II Research and Writing Center