Published by Thomas Nelson on February 25, 2020
Source: the publisher
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From international bestselling author Mario Escobar comes a story of escape, sacrifice, and hope amid the perils of the second World War.
August 1942. Jacob and Moses Stein, two young Jewish brothers, are staying with their aunt in Paris amid the Nazi occupation. The boys’ parents, well-known German playwrights, have left the brothers in their aunt’s care until they can find safe harbor for their family. But before the Steins can reunite, a great and terrifying roundup occurs. The French gendarmes, under Nazi order, arrest the boys and take them to the Vélodrome d’Hiver—a massive, bleak structure in Paris where thousands of France’s Jews are being forcibly detained.
Jacob and Moses know they must flee in order to survive, but they only have a set of letters sent from the south of France to guide them to their parents. Danger lurks around every corner as the boys, with nothing but each other, trek across the occupied country. Along their remarkable journey, they meet strangers and brave souls who put themselves at risk to protect the children—some of whom pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees of war.
This inspiring novel, now available for the first time in English, demonstrates the power of family and the endurance of the human spirit—even through the darkest moments of human history.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is an extraordinary novel. The story features two young brothers, Jacob and Moses Stein, as they search for their parents in 1942.
The brothers’ parents left them in the care of their aunt about a year ago while they went looking for a safe place to move their family. The boys’ parents are somewhere, maybe in France, looking for a safe place for their family to wait out the war, as they were German playwrights and Jewish. One day, the French law enforcement begins rounding up all of the local Jews, and they are transported to Velodrome d’Hiver for detainment. The boys are also captured but soon realize that the only way to reunite with their parents is if they escape and try to find them on their own. So that’s what they do.
I can’t really remember reading a WWII story quite like this one. The perspectives of the young boys is quite different than that of the leads in most of the other wartime stories. Moses is just 8 years old, and his brother Jacob is only a few years older. For the boys to have the fortitude and grit to make such a huge decision-to escape and look for their mom and dad-is tremendous. They’re so brave. And their ability to persevere along the way then things get really hard for them is astounding. They’re also just children, so I love that I was able to see their vulnerability and their exhaustion throughout this story. I felt so deeply for them because they just don’t fully understand all that is happening around them.
The boys come across people on their journey that are kind and willing to help, but they also cross paths with Nazi sympathizers and people that treat them as less-than because they are Jewish. They are encouraged by the people that are risking their own lives to help move them toward their parents, and they are aware that getting caught probably means the worst for them.
Mario Escobar writes beautifully. There are some beautiful turns-of-phrase in here and quite a few sentences and paragraphs that I want to make sure to remember. Readers that enjoy WWII novels will likely enjoy this one, and I also think that teens and some younger readers can pick it up and enjoy it. It’s a hopeful story, which is not always the case with stories about WWII-era novels.
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