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  • Barbara Stark-Nemon

Author to Author

Imagine sitting at the original Peet's Coffee shop in Berkeley, CA, when in walks the author and main character come to life from the novel Stumbling Stone.

I've often noted that one of the most unexpected and pleasurable aspects of being on this author journey has been getting to know other authors, and this meeting exemplified why that's true. Julie Freestone (and her husband Rudi Raab) wrote Stumbling Stone which is based on their own relationship and the disturbing research they did into Rudi's family's history in WWII Germany. The commonalities between this novel and Even in Darkness are many - A Jewish woman and a German man, a novel based on a family story, years of research and writing, unexpected circumstances.

In addition, Julie and I are both daughters of immigrants and have had to learn how to bring a book into the world. So when Julie walked into Peet's, I didn't know whether I would meet the author, the real incarnation of Sarah, (the main character in Stumbling Stone) or a woman whose background and experience as a first generation Jewish American with ties to Germany might match my own. Happily, our lively connection resulted in connections on all these levels, and our hour and a half flew by. Topics we resolved to pursue further together and perhaps with others include why these family stories from WWII continue to have such power, issues around the reaction of family members to the telling of family stories, and fielding reactions from readers when our narratives depart from the expected.

Stumbling Stone by Rudi Raab and Julie Freestone is a novel based on a true story of discovering Rudi’s family's past in WWII Germany. Sarah Stern is an investigative journalist in Berkeley California, a transplanted Jewish girl from the Bronx whose parents escaped Germany. Karl Schmidt is a cop whose beat is the drug-infested neighborhood Sarah is writing about. He's originally from Germany. When these two fall in love, they must unearth and then reconcile themselves to the impact of Karl's family's Nazi past. Along the way, they discover secrets and confront barriers that challenge their trust, their prejudices, their understanding of themselves and their relationship. Strongly written, Stumbling Stone is an interesting and entertaining take on an unusual story.