Read advance reader review of The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars

A Novel

by Kristin Harmel

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel X
The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2021, 384 pages

    May 2022, 384 pages


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There are currently 21 member reviews
for The Forest of Vanishing Stars
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  • Cheryl P. (Lebanon, PA)
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    Applause to Kristin Harmel this is one book that is extremely difficult to put down after reading the first page. I loved how she brought the characters in the story together to fight for survival amongst enemies around every corner. I believe this book would be a great selection for a book club, so many thoughts and opinions can be generated from this book. Very well written, transported you to a different time of hate and violence where acts of kindness were extremely difficult to find.
  • Laurette A. (Rome, NY)
    Home is not a place, but the people you choose to love.
    Inspired by true stories, this extraordinary novel draws you in from the very first page. Yona is a young woman who uses her survival skills to help those fleeing from the Nazi invasion of Poland. How she does that and the ensuing results are the focus of the novel. I believe "The Forest of Vanishing Stars" will appeal to history fans, book clubs and anyone who likes suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
  • Colleen L. (Casco, ME)
    Totally Riveting
    "The Book of Vanishing Stars" is a captivating read. The book is about a young girl, Yona, who was kidnapped when she was a baby and raised by her kidnapper in the forest. Yona is taught everything she needs to live there and stay hidden. This skill becomes immensely important to the Jews who hide in the forest during World War II. Yona teaches her skills to the Jews who escape to the forest for safety.

    Kristin Hamel did an amazing job researching the true circumstances of the Jewish people who did hide out in the forest during World War II. I knew that this happened but there is little literature about this particular event. Reading more about this added to my Holocaust knowledge. The book is beautifully written and Yona is a character that you will absolutely adore. From page one to the ending, the book hooks you. Once I started reading, I could not put the book down.

    I have nothing but praise for this book. It took me a while to start it (I was involved in a gigantic novel) but once I opened the first page, I was transported to Yona's world. I LOVE Harmel's writing. It is beautiful, lush, and so engaging that you want to race along to see what happens. That would be a mistake, however, as the writing is eloquent and gripping.

    I do hope someone decides to make this into a movie because it would be definitely a great addition to the Holocaust genre and tells a story seldom mentioned. I commend Kristin Hamel for a wonderful book. She has written a novel as compelling as Kristin Hannah's Nightingale and I predict it will be a huge success.
  • Ellie B. (Mount Airy, MD)
    Another outstanding historical novel by Kristin Harmel
    Lovers of historical fiction with a mystical twist will enjoy this thought-provoking novel. The heroine, who is groomed for leadership, struggles with her identity, and questions her role in life as many do. The struggle to make the 'right' choice profoundly affects her relationship with her father. Her skills and dedication guide her as she leads a band of Jewish refugees during World War Two. The resilience of that oppressed group is remarkably developed in this engaging novel. Her actions reflect the Talmud: "Whoever saves a life it is considered as if he saved an entire world." Upon re-reading, the allegory represented in the story line became very interesting to me. I highly recommend this novel for book club discussion.
  • Rosemary S. (Somers, NY)
    A Very Different Setting for WWII Historical Fiction
    This book is based on true stories of survival in the forests of Eastern Europe during WWII. I have read many books that take place during this era but I never heard about some of the Jews escaping the ghettos and fleeing into the surrounding wilderness.

    The amount of research and knowledge the author gave about the subject made quite an impression on me and helped make the book very believable. Kristin Harmel knows how to keep the reader interested by mixing love, betrayal, murder, survival, and so much more throughout the pages. I was extremely interested in all the survival skills that each character in her book had to learn. The main character, Yona, had only nature at her disposal most of the time, so the author needed to learn the plants, mushrooms, and berries that were not only edible but could provide medicinal benefits as well. How can anyone build a shelter and have enough food to survive the harsh Winter? The details were very descriptive and I did learn quite a bit.

    There were heroes and there were cowards. Human nature at its worst and at its best. There were moments and descriptions in the book that were hard to read, but without them the book wouldn't seem real. The atrocities were real.

    Several times the author made the characters see that there would and could be moments of joy in their futures despite their horrific memories and pain. Her characters did believe it imperative that the Jewish faith survive and their stories must be told to future generations. I found that to be a very necessary and important message.

    I recommend this book for book clubs and readers that seek out historical fiction. This book is very different from the other WWII novels I have read before. The setting was unique and I'm surprised, almost ashamed, that it never occurred to me that of course there would be thousands driven into the forests.
    This book gave so much information, and was so well written it kept me up at night waiting to see if somehow, some way, these women, children, and men could somehow overcome all the odds.
  • Esther L. (Newtown, PA)
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    Jerusza, a mysterious old woman living alone in the forests of Eastern Europe,who followed the voices that echoed through them. "If one listened closely enough, nature always spilled her secrets, the secrets which were, of course, the secrets of God."

    In June of 1920, she saw a shining above the treetops, beckoning her north to Berlin and a glowing baby. After 2 years of watching the baby, Jerusza finally steals her to live in the forest with her, naming her Yona for the dove birthmark behind her wrist. Jerusza dies at the age of 102 in 1941 and Yona is on her own.

    Yona encounters a group of Jewish people hiding in the forest to escape the Nazis. The story continues with how they survive with the help of Yona's knowledge.

    Beautifully written, well researched and inspired by incredible true stories. A great addition to my Holocaust library, which I highly recommend.
  • Freya H. (Phoenix, AZ)
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    Although this is just one of the multitude of books I've read about WWII over the years, it was one that will not soon be forgotten. The storyline is, as all stories about the Nazi regime are, sad, but so inspiring in that the protagonist is a true survivor. She is instrumental in helping a large group of Jews who are fleeing from the Nazi terror learn how to survive in the forest where she grew up, while they in turn help teach her to understand life outside her isolated existence. What strength and courage she had. That same strength and courage was also vividly portrayed as the group of Jewish men, women and children learned skills to ensure their survival. This is a remarkable story, a page turner, very well written. I would certainly recommend it.
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