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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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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jul 6, 2021
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

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  • 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.
  • Susan H. (Mount Kisco, NY)
    Couldn't put it down
    Harmel writes a well-researched book with amazing detail for her characters and the period. I have had many a sleepless night reading her other books, and this one was no different. Once you start - the characters are your people, and you don't want to leave them - sleep later.
  • Kimberly H. (Stamford, CT)
    Another WWII book.....
    A hard to put down story based on facts about the underground resistance in Poland. I wish I had read the afterword first- I had no idea how much of the novel was based on fact as I was reading it. The bravery of these folks is astounding - a well written, sometimes very emotional book. Worth the read.
  • Phyllis B. (St. Louis, MO)
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    Being a novice at writing a book review, I feel fortunate to review a book by an author whose works I have read and enjoy. Kristin Harmel's, The Forest of Vanishing Stars, is an historical fiction account of World War II in Poland. The story starts with a baby girl being kidnapped and taken into the forest. She grows up learning forest survival from the old woman. Left alone after the old woman dies, the girl learns why she was taken and how she can help the Jewish people escape the Nazi terrors.

    The author's characters express deep emotions as they face many conflicts between good and evil, death and healing, love and hate. I was emotionally drawn into their lives. The writing is filled with creative descriptions and the story flows smoothly. A difficult period in history is covered with truth, insight and compassion. Treat yourself to a beautifully written book.
  • Maureen M. (Springfield, OH)
    Hidden Messages
    I read this unique tale in just a few days and was eager to get home from work each day to continue reading it. It's a painful piece of historical fiction that reads like a fable and leads the reader to consider important questions about faith;the choices we make and the responsibilities of mankind.

    After a childhood of near solitude, the protagonist, Yona, comes face to face with the evils of man and horrors of the Holocaust. Suspense, romance, and mystery unfold as Yona struggles to learn about life outside the forest and her place in it.

    Yona was extraordinary. I rooted for her survival, her success to save others and her happiness.

    Readers will undoubtedly join Yona's cheering club.

    The story is told in such an interesting and unique way. Avid readers should read it for that reason alone. Kristen Harmel has made my list of favorite authors. I'm looking forward to her next book!
  • Jan B. (Driggs, ID)
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel
    This story starts with a young toddler being stolen in the midst of the night, and who then grows up in the forests of Poland with an older woman who is wise in the ways of the forest and who protects and teaches the girl, Yona.

    I have spent a large amount of my life living in forests, and one of the things that struck me is how the author gave credence to the knowing, the intuition, that springs from such time mostly alone and living there. This is huge in this story, as the holocaust is happening and many are fleeing to the forests, not knowing how to survive. This is about Yona, an innocent in the world of people, and her intersection with them during one of the most horrific periods of history. Group dynamics, especially in the case of survival is very tough. And here is where Yona meets and talks to other people for the first time, lives with others for the first time, falls in love, and takes on the responsibility for all of them as they hide in the forest.

    The author does very well with the deep thinking and the process that Yona goes through. The different characters and groups, are very vivid and real, as is Yona's deep inner thinking and processing.

    This was a non-stopper of a read for me. I really liked it and read it in two sittings holding my attention the whole time. I liked that this story came from the hiding in the forests, and that it mostly stayed there as the central place of the story.
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