Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies. But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and Lebensborn babies are only ever released to their father's custodyor taken away. A note is left under the mat. The neighbors know that Cyrla, sent from Poland for safekeeping with her Dutch relatives, is Jewish. The Nazis are imposing more and more restrictions; she won't be safe there for long.
And then in the space of an afternoon, life falls apart. Cyrla must choose between certain discovery in her cousin's home and taking Anneke's place in the LebensbornCyrla and Anneke are nearly identical. If she takes refuge in the enemy's lair, can Cyrla fool the doctors, nurses, guards, and other mothers-to-be? Can she escape before they discover she is not who she claims?
Mining a lost piece of history, Sara Young takes us deep into the lives of women living in the worst of times. Part love story and part elegy for the terrible choices we must often make to survive, My Enemy's Cradle keens for what we lose in war and sings for the hope we sometimes find.
My Enemy's Cradle is a good read, though there are plot elements and character interactions that may strike some as unrealistic. However, these portions do gain credibility by virtue of the unnatural setting and extreme time in which they take place. Risky decisions, compromise and relationships – both forbidden and convenient – during the German occupation are part of Cyrla's story, as they are part of World War II history. (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
The Observer - Francesca Segal
Young's novel is meticulously researched and the facts are unobtrusive, wrought into the story with intelligence and precision.
Earnest but ultimately sentimental rather than profound.
Library Journal - Christine DeZelar-Tiedman
Young explores the experiences of these women in her fictional story of Cyrla, a young Polish/Dutch woman who enters a Lebensborn maternity home in place of her cousin Annika.
"Starred Review. Children's-book author Young (who, as Sara Pennypacker, penned the celebrated Stuart series) makes a stunning adult debut with this beautifully told and heart-wrenching novel set in WWII Europe."
What a story! My Enemy's Cradle offers intrigue, suspense, compassion, heartbreak and joy. Sara Young writes with the intelligence and authority of an historian, but also with the sensitivity, precision, insight and grace of a poet. I was hooked from page one, and found the ending to be one of the most satisfying I've read in a long time.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by maggie My Enemy's Cradle One of the best books I have read in years. The characters are so real you hate for the book to end; the characters have become YOUR family members.
Rated of 5
by Myksmom Captivating Loved this book! Once I started reading I couldn't put it down, stayed up until 2 am to finish it last night.
Rated of 5
by Nicole Wow Wow. this book is honestly the most heart-wrenching, beautiful book ever. Sara Young is an amazingly talented author. Cyrla's is a wonderfully created character, she is genuinely innocent and insightful. Thank you for adding to the large array of... Read More
Rated of 5
by beth-ann My enemy's cradle. I happen to think this book is one of the best I have ever read. It kept me on the edge of wherever I was sitting, it never ceased to let me down. I recomend it because it's a heart-striking novel with some twists and turns that make it worth the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lynn R Great Historic Novel This was an excellent historic novel. This time in history is very fascinating to me and this book covers a much unknown story of Nazis and Jewish people in Europe during WWII. The characters are very believable, interesting and diverse. This... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dawn My Enemy's Cradle Excellent, once you start on it you don't want to put it down. Story of a young girl trying to survive and save her unborn baby.
Sara Young previously has
published seven children's book
under the pen name
Sara Pennypacker, including
the Stuart series and the
Clementine series. Before
becoming an author, she was a
painter. She lives on Cape Cod,
Massachusetts. For more about
her, please see the interview at
Lebensborn (Fount of
Life), founded by Heinrich
Himmler in 1935, was originally
set up to provide maternity
homes and financial assistance
to wives of the SS and unmarried
mothers of biologically fit and
racially pure German stock. As
German occupation of Europe
expanded, the Lebensborn program
expanded with it providing
support and housing to
biologically fit and racially
Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, reimagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.
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