“To Go With the One I Love” Part Two


After translating numerous memoirs by women fleeing Nazism, Suzanne Shipley decides to write a historical fiction with a similar premise, 2022. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Shipley.

The first part of Suzanne Shipley’s “To Go With the One I Love” ended with stark realities of Shira Hayat, the protagonist, being forced to leave Germany and smother her Jewish culture in the name of safety. The next part, entitled, “Spain,” gives Shira the opportunity to finally establish something of her own as she travels with a team to dismantle facism in Europe. While the quick references to Shira’s feelings for Grayson are left in the first chapter like Grayson himself was left in Germany, now the reader sees Shira establish friendships and comradery with her group. The romance between her and Achim burns fiercely in the early chapters, with frequent kisses and over a week of fade to black scenes of intimacy. The writing here places Shira in a dreamy honeymoon state that the reader can’t help but be thankful for after all she has gone through. However, for those who felt attached to the potential relationship between Shira and Grayson, these intimate moments feel painful. Shira asks for more commitment from him, and just as part two ends, the reader discovers Achim has left the group during the night. For the serious subjects of racism and other forms of discrimination to be placed as a backdrop behind the romantic life of Shira truly lightens the tone of the story. This classic move of writing romance in a time of extreme turmoil hearkens back to the classics of Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck. As Shipley’s novel continues along, the focus on romance becomes more and more pronounced, and so does the building need for dear Shira’s happy ending sans compromise of her culture and self-worth. 

This second part also features light discussion of homophobia when the group discovers Walther has been injured. When he’s well enough to speak, he describes a targeted attempt to catch him pursuing a man just to assault him. This is just one instance of many so far that have highlighted another group discriminated against to the extent of violence during this time period. It wasn’t just those directly under hitler’s thumb. It was a world-wide scorn for anyone who didn’t fit Hitler’s idea of perfection, and Shipley’s writing manages to make that realistic and relatable to the reader. This further emphasizes the character relatability that part one captured so well. Though dialogue is still a bit stiff at times, the characters’ feelings are human and naturally conflicted. While Shira is worried for her family and her own life, she also finds herself worried about things like romance and a career. While Walther is recovering from being assaulted by, what is resumed to be, a family of homophobes, he copes with his pain using humor. Even the flighty Achim is reminiscent of modern day individuals who run away from true commitment in a relationship. In a book with so many different themes and cultural references, these people are what unite it all. 

A notable pattern that continued from part one includes frequent references to items and places in different languages. Shipley’s ability to capture diverse places with such detail and patience alludes to an author who is either well traveled or well researched- perhaps even both. This combined with the compelling romantic life of Shira and the- almost painfully- relatable character motivations and choices provides the reader with a richness and a confidence that the end of the novel will be as satisfying as its first two parts promise. It will be exciting to see what Shira gets up to next in part three of Shipley’s “To Go With the One I Love.”