to @megwaiteclayton on the release of from @harperbooks! 📘👩🏻🚂👦🏻👧🏻🐰🍫 In Austria pre-World War II, a 16 year old Jewish boy, Stephan, is expected to someday take over his father’s thriving chocolate business but instead longs to be a playwright. He also has a huge crush on 15 year old Žofie-Helene, a Christian girl who is the daughter of an outspoken, female newspaper editor. When the Nazis invade, both families find themselves in a perilous position.
Meanwhile, a courageous Dutchwoman named Truus Wijsmuller, has made it her life’s mission to help Jewish children escape the Nazis. Unable to bear children of her own with her husband, Joop, she is compelled to find refuge for as many Jewish children as possible. “My father used to say courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather going forward in the face of it.” Just like a train, the first 1/3 of this story unfolded slowly before gaining momentum and a more constant speed. The next third chugged along nicely, allowing me to form an affinity for each of the main characters. Even though the book was long, the short chapters definitely helped it move along more quickly than expected. By the time I reached the last third, it was full steam ahead, and then I couldn’t put it down! I found the scenes in which the parents had to say good-bye to their children especially poignant, excruciating, and heart wrenching. As a friend explained to Truus’ husband, this baby has a mother “who loves her enough to give her away.” Sob.
Even though I’ve read numerous books set in WWII, it was a unique subject for me and definitely needs to be shared with the world.