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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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  • Published:
    Jul 2021, 384 pages

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There are currently 25 reader reviews for The Forest of Vanishing Stars
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Power Reviewer
Elizabeth@Silver'sReviews

Another FIVE star but very heartbreaking gem from Kristin Harmel
Yona was kidnapped out of her crib at a very young age and forced to live in the forest with a woman named Jerusza. Jerusza felt it her duty to take Yona from her German parents.

Yona knew nothing other than living off the land, surviving in the forest, and stealing things from stores and people in the villages.

When Jerusza died at 102 years of age, Yona was alone but able to survive because of her skills.

When Yona meets a group of Jewish folks who had escaped the ghetto, she felt it her duty to help them survive.

THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS takes us with Yona through her years with Jerusza and her harrowing, frightening, and dangerous time with the group as we see them learn the ways of the forest, live with fear, hide from the Nazis, and learn to trust each other.

When she is betrayed by the group, she leaves them and has to again make decisions on her own.

Ms. Harmel again did meticulous research and portrayed the plight of the characters with such authenticity that you were right there with them suffering through all the horrible conditions they had to endure.

This book is a beautiful tribute to the human spirit, to perseverance, and to finding the qualities a person possesses for empathy, kindness, and making choices.

Another FIVE star but very heartbreaking gem from Kristin Harmel. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
anita

never expected to like to it until........
I really got into the book and could not put it down. My resistance was...oh no another war book. But this was different and Yona proved to be an incredible character. A different take on the war presented by a most unusual woman who could and would take chances on her life and many others. An outstanding read!
Power Reviewer
Betty Taylor

Captivating Story
I love Ms. Harmel’s books and think this may be her best so far. Her newest book is a story of hope, courage, bravery, survival, and love. It is also a story of determining who we are inside and how to become that person.

Yona was born to a German family and named Inge. But when she was two years old, she was stolen from her parents by a woman named Jerusza and renamed Yona. Living in the forest, Jerusza taught Yona valuable survival skills. These skills would be the key to Yona’s survival and her ability to save other lives.

As the Nazis gained ground in Poland, thousands of Jews fled to the deep forests of Eastern Europe to escape their clutches. When Yona encounters some of these Jews, she feels she must help them survive. But because she has been isolated deep in the forest throughout her life, she has no social skills. All this leads to a fascinating story of underground bunkers, danger, hardships, trust, conflict, and betrayal. But through it all, Yona learns how to open her heart to others. And when Yona comes face-to-face with her past, her world is turned upside down.

Ms. Harmel did intense research so she could tell the story of the real-life Jews who lived this story. The writing was so vivid that I felt an emotional connection with the characters. I could feel their fear, their hunger, their shivering in the harsh winters, and the solace that came from looking up at the stars from deep within the forest.

I highly recommend this stunning book to all historical fiction fans.
Power Reviewer
Elizabeth@Silver'sReviews

Elizabeth @Silver's Reviews - Another FIVE star but very heartbreaking gem from Kristin Harmel
Yona was kidnapped out of her crib at a very young age and forced to live in the forest with a woman named Jerusza. Jerusza felt it her duty to take Yona from her German parents.

Yona knew nothing other than living off the land, surviving in the forest, and stealing things from stores and people in the villages.

When Jerusza died at 102 years of age, Yona was alone but able to survive because of her skills.

When Yona meets a group of Jewish folks who had escaped the ghetto, she felt it her duty to help them survive.

THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS takes us with Yona through her years with Jerusza and her harrowing, frightening, and dangerous time with the group as we see them learn the ways of the forest, live with fear, hide from the Nazis, and learn to trust each other.

When she is betrayed by the group, she leaves them and has to again make decisions on her own.

Ms. Harmel again did meticulous research and portrayed the plight of the characters with such authenticity that you were right there with them suffering through all the horrible conditions they had to endure.

This book is a beautiful tribute to the human spirit, to perseverance, and to finding the qualities a person possesses for empathy, kindness, and making choices.

Another FIVE star but very heartbreaking gem from Kristin Harmel. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Power Reviewer
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.

Beyond the Book:
  The Bielski Partisans

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