Author: Pam Jenoff
Published: September 22, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
Nineteen-year-old Emma Bau has been married only three weeks when Nazi tanks thunder into her native Poland. Within days Emma’s husband, Jacob, is forced to disappear underground, leaving her imprisoned within the city’s decrepit, moldering Jewish ghetto. But then, in the dead of night, the resistance smuggles her out. Taken to Krakow to live with Jacob’s Catholic aunt, Krysia, Emma takes on a new identity as Anna Lipowski, a gentile.
Emma’s already precarious situation is complicated by her introduction to Kommandant Richwalder, a high-ranking Nazi official who hires her to work as his assistant. Urged by the resistance to use her position to access details of the Nazi occupation, Emma must compromise her safety—and her marriage vows—in order to help Jacob’s cause. As the atrocities of war intensify, so does Emma’s relationship with the Kommandant, building to a climax that will risk not only her double life, but also the lives of those she loves.
Y’all know I’m all about WWII fiction. I saw this on sale and jumped at it. I’ve never read Jenoff before so I was excited to read a new author. Overall, I liked this book. It’s not really a plot driven book, definitely all about the characters and philosophy. I liked the premise of looking at the ethics of many of the Resistance members’ actions throughout the war. It’s an interesting perspective that not everyone thinks about.
On the other side though, I think “hindsight is 20/20” actually hurts the story. Most of the time when Emma questions herself and her actions, I was sitting there condemning her indecision because why wouldn’t you do everything possible to defeat the Nazis?? But the more I read, the better it got. But having said that, I don’t know if single people would react the same way that attached people would. I can definitely say that if I didn’t know Ivan and I was single, I would totally have been harder on Emma. Get your feelings under control girl and do your job! But reading it as a married chick who is completely in love with her husband, the lines were blurrier.
Basically this book is one big ethical dilemma that will certainly keep you thinking, even after you finish it. And that’s why I gave it a higher rating than I was initially thinking. A good historical fiction book with interesting and relatable philosophizing thrown in.