By: Sarah McCoy
Rating: 5 stars
Who Should Read This Book: This book jumps back and forth from present Texas and World War II in Germany. It is a story of resilience, bravery, and finding one's self. Anyone who is interested in historical fiction revolving around World War II, and what it meant from the eyes of a baker's daughter from Germany, will truly be captured by this book.
This novel captured me by the fifth page. I have always been interested in World War II and what it meant to everyone that lived during that time. How did it affect them? What were they exposed to? How did they get through it all? I truly believe that we must pay attention to our past so as not to repeat it in our future. This may have at times failed in certain circumstances, but being aware is a much better step in the right direction than choosing ignorance. This book follows three characters. Their is Elsie Schmidt who is the baker's daughter growing up in war torn Germany during the second World War. Reba Adams, who is a journalist/lost soul in El Paso, Texas in the year 2008 trying to figure out what it is she wants in life. Then there is Riki Chavez, a border patrol officer and Reba's fiance. Riki struggles with his job and the consequences that it has on the lives of the illegal immigrants he deports back across the borders. All three of these characters are vastly different in who they are and where they came from, but they deal with some of the same struggles, just at different points of their life and oceans away from each other.
Elsie was definitely my favorite character. She is a teenager during World War II, and although she knows that she is supposed to do anything for the Reich, and be proud to do it, she just can't seem to find the honor in it. After being saved in the beginning of the book by a small Jewish boy at a party, Elsie finds him standing at her back door later on in the evening asking for the same thing in return. She knows that she should just turn him away, that it is a matter of life and death for her family if she is caught hiding him, but she can't turn him away. She refuses to be the one that sends him to his death. From there a story unravels involving betrayal, bravery, secrecy, and the most undying love anyone can imagine. Fast forward to El Paso in 2008 and we find Elsie again, the owner of her own baker shop and helping Reba Adams find herself through Elsie's daughter, Jane, and the comfort of the two ladies friendship. Reba is a lost soul, engaged to Riki (who in turn is lost himself) and the both of them realize that they need to figure out who they are and what they want before they can truly commit to each other. Neither is being honest with themselves or the other, and so the decision they have to make is whether to start telling the truth or walking away from each other for good.
It may not seem that the two stories can really relate to each other, but I promise they do. I stayed up late into the night trying to figure out what happened to Elsie and the Jewish boy during the war, how she got to the US, and if Reba and Riki were going to finally come clean. This story pulls at your heart strings, and most people can relate to the characters. How many of us at one point in our lives have felt confused, afraid, and lost? The author does a wonderful job in creating characters that cannot only show the reader that love comes in all forms, but sometimes the smallest acts of kindness can change another person's life forever. I have absolutely no complaints about this book. There were some things (that I can't specify so I don't ruin it for those who haven't read it yet) that I was wondering why the author took it on that specific path, but by the end I understood. Some things in life are better off left unsaid. The story also jumps back and forth between the two time periods. The thing that I love about these types of books is they leave you wondering what happens next, so it is much harder to put the book down because you want to get back to where the other storyline has left off. By the end of the book I felt as if I knew the characters and was so sad for it to be over. I found myself sitting there for a second after closing the book and imagining to myself what became of the characters later on in their lives. To me, that is the mark of a great book, one that keeps you wanting more.