German Awakening


A Timely Narrative

There should exist a German word to describe this conundrum: reading to become sleepy before bedtime... and then a book is so engaging, so addictive you can't put it down...

I forgot more than once that it was non-fiction. Thank you Amy – dear Frau Hallberg – for writing this part of your story, for sharing your journey with the world.

Jenny C.

A stellar debut novel! Amy Hallberg's clear and lucid prose draws the reader in immediately... We travel with her from youth to adulthood, experiencing all the ups and downs in a parallel journey with an enlightening look at German experience before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. More than a memoir... [an] engaging first novel [for] readers of all ages.

Olivia Roller, Spanish Teacher

Amy Hallberg's German Awakening tells a story about family, education, relationships, and a social awakening that especially resonates with anyone who left a home to find another.

Juliane Schicker, Assistant Professor of German, Carleton College

Color in the lines? I think not. Illuminates the difficulties of keeping a dream alive, yet growing in opposition. Hallberg's vivid language expresses a message ... women need to hear. Our lives are not stuck in stasis and we sometimes need to go off script. When I say sometimes, I mean often.

Kathryn Naughton, German & English Teacher

Great Read... heartfelt and poignant. Easy to read, but complex enough to keep me turning pages. Made me think. Made me feel.

Jeff F.

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Join the conversation

I’m Frau Amy Hallberg and my life forever changed when I became an exchange student in West Germany in 1987.

That might sound ancient or irrelevant, but it’s not. Mine is an eerily resonant story with vital messages for today.

My exchange sister, Eva, helped me make sense of her beloved, then-divided country. Thanks to her unflinching perspective, I saw my American homeland in a new light. And my own blind spots.

Following German reunification, I unpacked these lessons for years as a teacher.

In 2009, this book tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Start writing.” I’m grateful to my teenage self for leaving breadcrumbs.

Who knew that on its release in 2018, we Americans would face so many echoes of Germany’s past (& our own)?

That a coming of age memoir about a bookish girl would weave so many relevant threads? This is my life’s unlikely and precisely-timed path.

(Mein Lebenslauf. I’m not even German. But what a mirror this German story has been!)

It’s a story of belonging and otherness. Of displacement and finding home. Above all it’s an ode to a treasured friendship and extraordinary guides. They showed me what bravery looks like: Everyday heroes who spoke truth to power.

We Americans can and must find love in the face of division. Even (especially) when it’s tempting to hide in the shadows and stay quiet. I feel that pull. But it’s not why we’re here.

I TAKE HEART when I remember that this story was entrusted to me for a purpose. And I’m not alone.

I’m honoring personal heroes who risked far more. So here I am (scared but ready) to share this book’s wisdom, courage, and light.

You can purchase German Awakening where books are sold. Order directly from me and I’ll sign your copy.

For every copy of German Awakening I sell, I’ll donate a portion of my proceeds to support the well-being of immigrant children in America.

I’m looking for passionate people to support this mission:

  • Write a review on why this book speaks to you: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads. (I might quote you.)
  • Invite me to speak at bookclubs & live events. Host me on your podcast. Listen to my podcast, Frau Amy’s World.
  • Look for my events & gatherings.
  • Tell and invite your friends.

Here’s what this book has taught me: We are ALL more than one thing. And we’re ALL in this together.

Read on for more reviews.


Sometimes comical, sometimes heartbreaking, Amy Hallberg's passion for language shimmers.
Reverend Susan P. Thomas, ELCA

Charming, zany, delightful, and smart.

Rebecca Tolin, Journalist

A story we need now! Told thoughtfully through the lens of German language and history, this poignant tale of a smart and sensitive American girl's awakening reminds us to tend lovingly to our own lives and communities.

Sarah Bamford Seidelmann, The Book of Beasties

A wonderfully touching surprise. I've often thought of memoirs as belonging to another generation, but this book is a wonderful journey of cultural connection and self-discovery set against the backdrop of the end of the Cold War. It touched me in a deep and surprising way. Highly recommend!

Matthew Guritz, Social Studies Teacher

Stunning. Amy Hallberg is an absolutely phenomenal writer. The book is masterful at weaving elements of her story, elements of history, and all the elements that tie our lives together. It is emotional and never sentimental. A great book for a lover of memoir!

Roseanne C.

Delightful Awakening. What a beautiful, charming story! Thank you for sharing it with the world. The writing is graceful and eloquent. I had a hard time putting it down.

Sarah B.

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