Linda W. (Summit, NJ)
Before You Promise
The premise for this book - why would a Jew who survived World War II chose to live in Germany - is an entry into the chaos of post-war life. It is also the framework for a poignant love story. The horror of survival in Germany of two Jewish young adults is not whitewashed. At times the deprivation and violence is hard to read, but the author counter balances these passages with wonderful descriptive phrases of an emerging spring and the resurrection of trust and love in Jacob and Sarah. Simple pleasures, like a bag of cherries and hot water, are embraced and savored. But the secrets and suffering of unfulfilled promises are potential obstacles to the future of their life and love together.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written and satisfying novel of romance, love and restoration seen through the eyes of Jacob and Sarah who scarred by the Holocaust.
Susan B. (Lowell, MA)
Why would a refugee who is dirty, hungry, homeless, destitute, and shoeless want to return to his birthplace? After the camps, how do you rebuild toward a hopeful future without the painful and brutal memories of the assault and horror of your losses? This book is about the courageous survivors of the camps and their daily emotional roller coaster of memories that influence hope and planning for a future in Heidelberg, Germany. The conflicts escalate to a climax in a very engaging way. The characters, Sara and Jacob the villain, Hans, and others were very believable and hard to forget. The German Holocaust was horrific and those who returned to Germany had both logical and emotional reasons for making the trek. This novel is about their journey during the war, their decision to return to home, and the aftereffects of the horrors. The descriptions were so vivid a reader could feel the cold, the pain of the fall, and the sickness from fever and bacteria. The bullying of Maxi, Jacob's brother and his subsequent death by "THE RAT" became reoccurring nightmares for Jacob as he dealt with his demons. The losses that this couple experienced were significant and became hard for the reader to assimilate without a great deal of empathy and sympathy. I felt I knew the moral fabric and soul of this couple. Lieutenant Isak Brodsky became a savior and the hopeful eye toward life and future happiness. His fortuitous help and empathy at critical times in the novel's plot became necessary to the reader's need to know that things would only get better for this couple that we come to know so well. This new novel is a different take on the story of the holocaust because this was about the demons that accompany the psychological state as the protagonists attempt to rebuild a future without predictability while paying homage to a past that is horribly traumatic.
Virginia M. (San Antonio, TX)
This book is another Holocaust story but with a different twist. Instead of being focused on the horrible conditions Jacob Klein endured within a concentration camp or on the sub-human conditions faced by Sarah Kaufman who survived by hiding out for years fleeing from one safe house to another, this story is about these two Jews in the days immediately following the victories of the Allied armies. I believe the difficulties involved in trying to survive as free people who have lost everything have been pretty much overlooked in novels about this era. So the concept was intriguing for someone who loves historical fiction. The cover of the book announced that the author is a master storyteller, but I am sorry to report that it somehow seemed to lack true emotion and did not measure up to what I was anticipating.
I am not sure what it was lacking. In some ways, it seemed to be as if the author stands back and reports the facts without being invested in the characters being described. I never lost the feeling I was reading about these people rather than being enveloped and living in their shoes.
I would not recommend the book.
Laurie B. (Jacksonville, FL)
wanted to like it more
This book mostly held my interest and was reasonably well written. The plight of concentration camp victims during WWII and Jews in Germany is a worthy subject--we should never forget. That said, the plot felt a little contrived to me and just a little "soap opera-ish". I think there are better novels on the subject