Erich Grows Up – “The World Starts Anew” by Jean Grainger

At age 23, Erich Bannon feels abandoned by his friends who’ve all moved away from Ballycreggan, the only home he can truly remember. Even though he was born in Germany, Erich considers himself Irish because that’s where his mutti Elizabeth took him and his sister Liesl after their home in Liverpool England was bombed by the Luftwaffe.

America in the 1950s

Erich was having an old-fashioned pity party when a chance meeting with a local Catholic girl improves his outlook and his attitude. Roisin is smart and beautiful and fun to be with but she insists they can’t be seen together. Because the town of Ballycreggan has so generously opened its hearts and its doors to the Jewish community, Erich has never experienced resistance or contempt for being a Jew, so he sees no reason they can’t be together just because of some silly archaic ‘rules’ that forbid the mixing of religions.

When Roisin’s brothers discover that she and Erich have been seeing each other, they react violently. Suddenly Erich’s life is in danger and Roisin disappears. Following his recovery, Erich remains despondent over losing Roisin, but with some help from Rabbi Frank, he sets out to find her and bring her back home to Ballycreggan.

“The World Starts Anew” is the fourth and final book in ‘The Star and the Shamrock’ series as it follows Erich across the Channel to America and back to Ireland. Up to now Erich seemed to be frozen in time as a sweet ten year old boy hanging on to his older sister’s hand as they boarded the Kindertransport all those years ago. He’s refreshing in his naivete but Erich must all too quickly grow up when he  realizes he needs help in his effort to rescue Roisin. As previously demonstrated, author Jean Grainger does a masterful job of bringing her characters to life. In the post-war 1950’s the ugliness of racial and religious bigotry continues its malevolent growth but Grainger’s handling of it holds out hope that the world may eventually become a kinder, more tolerant society. Someday. Surely? Four stars.

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