Verdict: The Parachutist’s Daughter is a deeply poignant and riveting read.
Gabriella is a skilled member of Nokmim, a secret Israeli organization tasked with hunting down and exterminating Nazi war criminals. During a trip to Nicaragua to hunt down war criminal, Friedrich Guderian, Gabriella discovers Father Christian, a missionary priest. Her experiences working with him in the poverty stricken, third world village unleash memories, emotions and conflict that Gabriella thought she had discarded long ago.
CSP McNulty has written a story that is at once beautiful and harrowing; a story that is controversial and both thought provoking and emotionally stirring. McNulty’s protagonist is a complex character, filled with paradoxes both physically and psychologically as she battles her demons by becoming so deeply involved in her work and such a believer in her cause, that she almost becomes the sort of beast she is exterminating: “Something simply took over when she had these men in her grasp, something unholy.”
The Parachutist’s Daughter weaves together fact and fiction, bringing a sense of history to life through Gabriella’s story. McNulty skillfully paints the different geographical backdrops for each chapter with telling details: “The ubiquitous sounds of babies crying and dogs barking seemed to be the native music of the place.” Ironically, the different locations, even in different times reveal underlying similarities of potential threat of war, poverty and hardships.
The author’s descriptive strengths are powerful, for example in the following scene, when Gabriella is in the prison camp with her mother:
“Gabby,” her mother rasped in the darkness. “Gabby” Gabriella shifted on to her side to face her. “I’m here, mama,” she whispered.
“I’m going to see your father. Will you be alright?”
Gabriella ran her hand down her mother’s arm, feeling mostly bone. “Papa is dead.”
“Yes…” she said, her voice trailing off.
The Parachutist’s Daughter powerfully portrays the inhumanity and the brutalizing of human beings and spirits, the disregard for morals in war. McNulty reveals the fate of Gabriella’s father:
“In his last days, he was placed in the Strafkommando and made to carry the huge slabs of granite up the stairs of the quarry, double time. All the while the SS guards screamed at him to go faster and whipped him when he faltered. When it was clear that he was on his last legs, the guards hauled him to the top of the quarry. In mock solemnity one of the guards congratulated him. His strenuous efforts had earned him a position in the Parachute Regiment. With that he was shoved off the cliff.”
McNulty jumps into the plot quickly and keeps the pace of the story with flawless transitions from the Gabriella’s present to her past. Gabriella who is “dispossessed from her past” must find a way to come face to face with her demons, finally answering complex questions about war, about her desire to seek revenge for all war crimes that were committed against her and her people.
The Parachutist’s Daughter is a deeply poignant and riveting read.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader
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