Summary and book reviews of My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young (Pennypacker)

My Enemy's Cradle

by Sara Young (Pennypacker)

My Enemy's Cradle
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2008, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2008, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie

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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Cyrla's neighbors have begun to whisper.

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 custody—or 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 Lebensborn—Cyrla 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.

ONE
SEPTEMBER 1941

"Not here, too! Nee!"

From the doorway, I saw soup splash from my aunt's ladle onto the tablecloth. These days, there was no fat in the broth to set a stain; still, my heart dropped when she made no move to blot the spill. Since the Germans had come, she had retreated further into herself, fading away in front of me so that sometimes it was like losing my mother all over again.

"Of course here, Mies," my uncle scoffed. His pale face pinked with the easy flush of red-haired men, and he leaned back and took off his glasses to polish them on his napkin. "Did you think the Germans would annex us as a refuge for Jews? The question is only why it took so long."

I brought the bread to the table and took my seat. "What's happened?"

"They posted a set of restrictions for Jews today," my uncle said. "They'll scarcely be able to leave their homes." He inspected his glasses, put them back on. ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review Members Only (562 words).

Media Reviews

The Observer - Francesca Segal

Young's novel is meticulously researched and the facts are unobtrusive, wrought into the story with intelligence and precision.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Publishers Weekly

"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."

Author Blurb Elizabeth Berg
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.

Reader Reviews

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.

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.

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

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

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Beyond the Book

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 BookBrowse.


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 ...

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