A Brother for Sorrows

(8 customer reviews)


Family secrets from a Nazi concentration camp are revealed to two young men. Out of the death of one family, a new family is created for a future of hope and steadfast love.

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In the fall of 1962, Joe Kaufmann is a Jewish doctoral student in history at Indiana University. He is unwittingly dragged into a waking nightmare when he befriends freshman music major Robert Stangarden. At the end of the school year, Joe helps Robert move back to his home in Indianapolis. However, he comes face-to-face with Robert’s parents, Henry and Ada Stangarden, whom he recognizes as Nazi civilians who had worked at the Buchenwald concentration camp where he and his parents had been prisoners in 1944. In mind-numbing shock, Joe descends into a deep depression as he relives those awful childhood memories of seeing unimaginable cruelty and barbarity and losing his parents. He attempts suicide but survives. He then retreats to his home in Ithaca, New York, to put 700 miles between himself and this wicked Nazi civilian and his kind but defeated wife.

However, this is not the end of Joe’s contact with the Stangardens. When the fall semester at I. U. approaches, Robert is eager to go back. But Henry must keep Robert away from Joe. He cannot risk exposing his sinister past if the two young men meet again and Robert learns who his parents really are. During their argument, Henry viciously beats Robert, almost killing him. Robert’s mother, Ada, helplessly witnesses the assault. After her husband storms out of the house, she takes Robert by taxi to the hospital and abandons him. Later, despite Robert’s subsequent insistence to the police that he and his father just had a “discussion,” Henry is arrested for the near murder of his own son. While the lawyers prepare for trial, tensions build as both Joe and the Stangardens desperately try to hide their toxic past relationship. Joe is the lynchpin to this whole nasty affair, and he wants no involvement. He fears this Nazi thug will come after him sooner or later. At the end of the trial, To Henry’s utter surprise, he is convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter.

Joe is relieved, believing he can move on with his life. But long-buried secrets from Buchenwald remain. Henry’s wife, Ada, knows what happened at there with Joe’s parents. Unable to hold her silence any longer, she chooses to give up her only child to reveal the true connection between Joe Kaufmann and Robert.

One family is shattered; a new, promising one is created out of the embers of a Nazi concentration camp.

8 reviews for A Brother for Sorrows

  1. Dennis E. Hensley, Ph.D. Author, Pseudonym

    Anita Tiemeyer is a military veteran, a gifted musician, and an avid student of history. All of these elements combine to give her novel variety, depth, and merit.

  2. Donna T.

    A Brother for Sorrows is a well-crafted, harrowing story of a tragedy that ends with an uplifting, hopeful ending. Complex, emotional characters will engage the reader. A great novel!

  3. N.W.

    Anita Tiemeyer is a brand new author who knows how to string words together like beads on a string in order to tell her story. She has a broad vocabulary and obviously researches thoroughly for details thus creating plots that are readable, believable, and enjoyable.

  4. Michelle Jones

    Miss Tiemeyer has written a powerful book that transcends her readers back into a historical time period . She is able to express through her writing the graphic details of a young Jewish boy’s experience in a concentration camp during the Holocaust . Then the author with historical accuracy allows the reader to feel the pain and struggles that the boy and his new American family must endure to help the child overcome his victimization. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to have a interesting look at the strength and love one must have to overcome great adversity.

  5. Jim Beshear

    I have finished both of your books very excited to get the next two. I’m a slow reader but your books were so interesting I could hardly put them down. I think they would make a good TV series or even a movie.

  6. Larissa Moebs

    Anita must secretly have a time machine that she uses to examine all the details of the historical moment in which she sets her stories. She has a strong, confident voice that encourages the reader to take part in the past she creates. She has a depth of compassion and care that delicately maneuvers the readers through the nightmares and dreams of her characters and invites readers to share their pains and celebrate their joys, bringing a fictional relationship to life in a beautifully rendered historical frame.

  7. DK Marley

    “Everything was the empty colorlessness of annihilation. Nothing had been left alive except the
    near unconscious casualty on the kitchen floor. The heap she had found wasn’t Joe. In her
    brother’s face, Irene saw the paralysis of total defeat to whoever or whatever that had caused
    him to try to take his life. How serendipitous that Hitler’s face stared out at the carnage from the
    top of the books.”

    Simply riveting! As a reader and a reviewer of Ms Tiemeyer’s first book in the Joe Kaufman series, The
    Guardian’s Son, I was anxious to get started on this one, and from the first page I knew this one was
    just as engaging as the first.

    Joe Kaufman, the little boy from The Guardian’s Son, is now a grown man and a doctoral student at
    Indiana University in 1963. The nightmares of his time spent at Buchenwald Concentration Camp as a
    little boy come back full circle when he accompanies fellow student, Robert Stangarden, back to his
    house in Indianapolis at the end of the school year. But all is not what it seems at Robert’s house, and
    the moment Joe’s eyes meet the shocked gazes of Henry and Ada Stangarden, the downward spiral of
    depression sucks Joe into a vortex of darkness.

    He recognizes them from Buchenwald; Nazi civilians who worked in the camp and somehow connected
    to the demise of his real parents. He cannot handle the shock and in desperation, he tries to take his
    life… again rescued by his guardian, Grayson, and Grayson’s daughter, Irene who take him back to
    Ithaca and surround him with love and care – away from that Nazi and his wife.

    But life has a way of connecting lives and stories. Robert Stangarden, while eager to begin the next
    year of school, is brutally beaten by the one man desperate to keep Robert away from the ‘undesirable
    Jewish pig’, Joe Kaufman. Without understanding why, Robert ends up in the emergency room,
    dropped off at the hospital curb by his acquiescent mother, Ada, and left for dead. Irene, now a doctor
    at the hospital, treats Robert while investigators delve into possible suspects for the horrific and nearly
    deadly beating.

    Secrets are revealed as Robert’s father, Henry, is arrested and put on trial for the attempted murder of
    his son… and Joe holds the key to much deeper truths as the trial develops. But Joe is not the only one
    with buried secrets… but, of course, this review reveals no spoilers. I can say that the author crafts an
    incredible story which will keep you on the edge of your seat. I read this in one sitting as I could not put
    it down!! This is a true ‘Perry Mason’ nail-biting, unexpected storyline – and, at the heart, of how
    something good can emerge from the ashes of something as horrific as the Holocaust.

    Ms Tiemeyer has an incredible way with words. Anyone who can imagine describing someone as
    ‘his face was as gaunt as an Old Testament prophet’ is, in my opinion, a skilled storyteller. There are
    so many luscious passages throughout this book that my highlighted notes cover two or three pages
    on my Kindle, and I thought I would share some of my favorites so you can get a taste of what this
    sensational book has to offer.

    “All that could be heard was the slow ticking of the metallic wall clock hanging next to a framed
    movie poster, Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Joe got up and went to the window, studying the busy
    sparrows chirping in the redbud tree as he smoked.” – ahh, the imagery and innotation!!
    And I must highlight the stunning relationship between Joe and Robert, the love of music they share
    is captured in a beautiful chapter where Mozart’s Adagio opens ‘like a fragile, pure white orchid,
    small and elegant’… and ‘beyond inborn talent and well-trained skill, Joe and Robert demonstrated
    an inner connection to music that was so personal, so deeply felt that to speak of it would destroy it.
    There was a connection between them that neither of them had felt before. It was if they shared the
    same blood, the same genes that let them communicate through sound and emotion.’

    Ms Tiemeyer’s book reaches deep inside your heart and grabs hold, not letting go from the first to
    the last… the very essence of a profound storyteller whose words are crafted in such a way as to not
    feel heavy and overburdened with words, but delicate in just the right places, and intense in others,
    such as the heartbreaking moment Joe escapes to the woods to sort out his despair and thoughts,
    fleeing through tree branches, and the ‘disconsolation clung to him like the broken spider webs on
    his face.’ Again, simply stunning and such visual artistry!

    I leave you with this passage to encapsulate all that this book gives a reader: “Was this Purgatory? Was he suspended in a state of eternal despair, knowing that he would never get out? He stared out at the greenery, drinking in the stillness, the loamy, putrefying smell, the cool shade. He could stay here forever with the rocks and the mushrooms and the bugs and the rotting log he leaned against. Yet, he drew no comfort from this verdant place. He felt no spiritual uplifting as he had on countless hikes before. There was no joy, no pleasure, no happiness, no exuberance about being alive.’ – Haunting, and a place where most humans have been and can relate to Joe’s experience at some time in their life. And that is what this book is – relatable, for even if we never experienced the horrors of a concentration camp, we can, after all, empathize and put ourselves in
    Joe’s shoes, in Robert’s shoes, as well, and understand why they have the feelings they do. When
    we do that, compassion reigns, and is the reason why books like this one are so needed in the world
    in which we live.”

    A Brother for Sorrows by Anita Tiemeyer is awarded five stars and the “Highly Recommended”
    award by The Historical Fiction Company

  8. JonesLeeh

    Following is an official review of “A Brother for Sorrows” by Anita Tiemeyer.

    Joe is a student at Indiana University; he’s pursuing a doctorate in history. He encounters Robert Stangarden, an undergrad music student, in the same university. Joe grew up in the Buchenwald concentration camp together with his parents, under the German Nazis’ cruel leadership. The duo’s camaraderie grows with time. By the end of the academic semester, Joe helps Robert to navigate Indiana and aids him to move his stuff back to his home. Upon arrival, he encounters Henry and Ada, Robert’s parents, who were members of the German Nazis. He instantly flees out of fear. Robert is unaware of his parent’s past; therefore, he’s dismayed by Joe’s actions. Fast forward, Henry is a tempered and inhumane man. At one point, he assaults his son, almost killing him. Two detectives, Benson and Dave, follow up the case, and they find sufficient evidence to arrest Henry. A trial awaits him. How will the trial go?

    A Brother for Sorrows by Anita Tiemeyer will transport you back to the 1960s. There are family dynamics, court proceedings, and medical incidences worth reading. In some instances, I was overwhelmed by emotions due to the happenings that took place as the tale advanced. Anita’s humor stands out in this installment.

    There are a few aspects I appreciated about this work. Primarily, there’s a dialogue between Joe and Robert, where the latter inquires about Joe’s country and city of origin, and if he spoke German and Italian languages. Joe gets agitated by Robert’s inquisitive nature, but Frank cools him off. Additionally, the work is historical, and the author made a good job with her historical illustrations. Joe’s car was a 1963 powder-blue Ford Falcon, there are talks of World War II and the German Nazi, and the newspapers dated back to the 1960s.

    There’s humor in chapter eight between two residents of Marion County General Hospital. Apparently, one patient has come to the hospital to have a ring removed around his genitals. The ring was to enhance his libido. The dialogue was so comic that I laughed out loud. Furthermore, the entire chapter eight felt like I was following a medical-themed movie. The descriptions of the medical practitioners’ doings were quite vivid; taking vital measurements, X-rays, and injecting specific amounts of drugs to the patients.

    There were no grammatical errors; consequently, the book was exceptionally well edited. There were erotic scenes and profanities. Anita composed this work with skill and prowess. The chapters were well written, and the characters were approachable. I discovered nothing to dislike; as a result, I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to audiences who enjoy reading books with historical settings.

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