Tag: Jews

Book Review and Blog Tour: In the Neighborhood of True, by Susan Kaplan Carlton

in the neighborhood of true
Image belongs to Algonquin Young Readers.

Title:   In the Neighborhood of True
Author:   Susan Kaplan Carlton
Genre:   YA
Rating:   4.0 out of 5

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes

Susan Kaplan Carlton lives in New Hampshire. In the Neighborhood of True is newly out in paperback.

I’ve always enjoyed reading about debutante life, because it seems like such a foreign concept to me, even though I was born and raised in the South. The debs Ruth ends up hanging out with were such quintessential southern girls—bless their hearts—sweet as sugar on the surface, but judgmental, mean, and ugly on the inside.

Ruth has had her entire world upended, so her struggles to figure out who she is are relatable, as are her fears. In the land of sweet tea and a façade of manners—Atlanta in the 50s—there isn’t much room for someone who is different, but Ruth’s journey taught her strength and pride in being herself—not who everyone wanted her to be.

(Galley courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Children of the Stars, by Mario Escobar

children of the stars
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Children of the Stars
AuthorMario Escobar
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Rating:  3.5 out of 5

Paris, 1942.

Jacob and Moses Stein are staying with their aunt amidst the Nazi occupation, while their parents search for a safe place for the family to be reunited. Before they can, the French gendarmes round up the Jews and detain them in the massive Vélodrome d’Hiver. Jacob and Moses are determined to escape and find their parents, but all they have is a handful of letters to lead them across the Nazi-filled countryside. Along the way they cross paths with many people who are determined to help them find their parents—no matter the cost.

Children of the Stars was a good historical read, but it was a little too…nice to be believable for me. Despite the harrowing time period, I never felt the boys were truly in danger, and I always knew they would find their parents in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I like happy endings, but this tone felt wrong for the story. These boys are alone in the midst of atrocities and horror, but those stakes never seemed to touch them, making this much less believable for me, although I enjoyed the characters themselves. This felt like a book aimed at a younger audience, with its characters who were never truly in danger.

Mario Escobar loves history. Children of the Stars is his new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

The Orphan’s Tale, by Pam Jenoff

the orphan's tale
Image belongs to harlequin/Mira.

Pam Jenoff is a lawyer and former government employee who now teaches law school. She is an award-winning author, and her newest novel is The Orphan’s Tale.

Noa’s family kicked her out when she became pregnant by a Nazi soldier. She was forced to give up her baby, and took a job cleaning a rail station. When a boxcar full of Jewish infants headed for a concentration camp stops at the station, Noa finds herself stealing one of the babies and escaping into the snowy night.

A German circus takes Noa in, and she’s forced to learn the trapeze to earn her keep and so she can blend in. Her presence puts the entire circus at risk, and she butts heads with the lead aerialist, Astrid, who must train her. Soon, she and Astrid forge a strong bond, as the threat to the circus looms larger, and the two women must overcome the secrets between them if they—and the rest of the circus—are to survive.

I was supposed to read this last month, and somehow skipped over it. I’m so glad I figured that out and read this! It’s a dark book, set in one of the bleakest periods of human history. World War II-era Germany was a terrifying place to be Jewish, and this danger snakes through every page of this book. The tragedies faced by both Noa and Astrid are harrowing, at best, and the way they fight to overcome them and reach for a brighter future is both inspiring and sad. This is a great read, but not for someone looking for a book that’s light or happy—despite being set in a circus.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Mira.)

But You Did Not Come Back, by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

butyoudidnotcomeback
(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Grove Atlantic.)

Marceline Loridan-Ivens is a French writer and film director. Her memoir, But You Did Not Come Back, is available on January 5th, 2015.

When Marceline was fifteen, she and her father were arrested by the government. He told her that he would not come back. They were sent to concentration camps, he to Auschwitz, and she to Birkenau. The three kilometers separating them might as well have been a million. Occasional glimpses of her father kept her going, but the note he managed to get to her kept her hope alive even in her horrendous, terrifying surroundings. She made it out of the camp alive and came home. Her father did not come back.

But You Did Not Come Back is a novella-length letter that Marceline wrote to her father, the man she never knew as an adult. Her experiences in the concentration camp colored the rest of her life, and through it all, her father’s memory lived on, her grief over him shadowing every day. Eventually, Marceline found her calling as an activist for refuges and as a documentary filmmaker.

Her heart-wrenching tale is filled with emotion and sorrow, grief and determination, in this memoir of one of the darkest times in history.

(Galley provided by Grove Atlantic via NetGalley.)