Guest Reviews

You never know who might submit a guest review! This section is for reviewers who contribute when they find a book they want to share. 



The Nightingale                 

Author:  Kristin Hannah                 Fiction          

Reviewer: Nancy G.

Isabelle and Vianne are sisters in occupied France during WWII. Isabelle is a young, outspoken, strong willed and at times impulsive woman. Her father, who fought in WWI, knows the horrors and sacrifices the war can cause. Isabelle’s father forces her to leave Paris, as the Germans are advancing on the city. While Isabelle is traveling with thousands to escape Paris, she experiences the cruelty of the Germans as the column of refugees is mercilessly attacked by a German plane wounding and killing many. Vianne lives in Carriveau, France with her daughter Sophie. Vianne’s husband has already left to fight the Germans at the Maginot line. Vianne is a school teacher and best friends with her neighbor, Rachel, who is Jewish. The town of Carriveau is eventually occupied by the Germans and Vianne is forced to share her house with a German officer. Life in Carriveau changes dramatically as the occupation continues. Vianne is compelled to protect her daughter and home praying her husband will return home. She finds out that her husband is in a POW camp, but is grateful he is alive. Isabelle arrives in Carriveau to be with her sister, but struggles with the occupation and having to share the house with a German officer. She has to weigh her eagerness to fight the Germans against her responsibility to help her sister and protect the family. Isabelle finally decides she must leave her sister’s home and returns to Paris joining the French resistance. She takes great risks, helping in any way she can, to fight this enemy that has destroyed their way of life. Vianne also struggles with the merciless acts of the occupation. She witnesses co-workers who lose their job;the deportation of her friends and neighbors because of their beliefs and the lack of simple daily provisions of food and heat. When her best friend, Rachel, begs her to help save her son from the deportation, Vianne knows she can no longer remain neutral,even though she is terrified, but knows she too needs to help in any way she can to stop the evil.

This book is a work of fiction,but the author wanted to expose the courage, selflessness and sacrifice of many women who fought in the French resistance.

A Lucky Child                                              

Author:  Thomas Buergenthal                    Memoir          

Reviewer: Nancy G.

Thomas’ early life is spent in Czechoslovakia with his parents. By the time he is 5 years old, Thomas and his parents move to Poland living in a small Jewish community. As the Germans invade Poland, Jews are forced into what becomes known as the Ghetto of Kielce. His parents are eventually put to work in factories as laborers, Thomas must make himself useful to the Germans to prove he can be of some "value" to them. Because of this action, he manages to escape the execution of young children who would become a burden to the occupying nation. The German army is already "thinning" out people who are too weak, sick, old or too young to be of use to them. At the age of 10, Thomas and his parents are moved to Auschwitz where they are immediately separated. Again, Thomas uses his wits and ability to convince the SS officers that he can work, being useful to his captors. As the war progresses and camps are being liberated, Thomas takes part in the death march out of Auschwitz to be imprisoned in Sachsenhausen another concentration camp. However, during the march, many die in the freezing cold and bitter conditions. While in Sachsenhausen,several of his toes, suffering from frost bite, are amputated because he can't walk. This was often a death sentence for many, since the SS used any excuse to eliminate prisoners. Being in the infirmary, was a sign of weakness an inability to work or produce, therefore a drain of the resources of the camp. One morning, when Thomas wakes up still recovering in the infirmary, he realizes something is wrong. He dares to venture out into the court yard noticing that there are no guards left in camp. Sometime during the night the guards and SS officers fled as the Russian army is advancing. After being liberated, Thomas must find his way home by himself. No parents to help him, he is alone. Upon leaving the camp, he is picked up by the Polish army. He befriends one of the soldiers who helps Thomas find a Jewish orphanage near Warsaw. While in the orphanage, all attempts are made to find any family of his remaining. Through much heartache and confusion, he eventually finds his family or what is left of it and they are reunited.

In 1951, Thomas emigrates to the United States. His life proceeds into law school leading him to become a judge and professor of international law in human rights.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz                

Author:  Heather Morris                  Fiction          

Reviewer: Nancy G.

In 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Jew from Slovakian is deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Like so many Jews during WWII, Lale arrives at Auschwitz not knowing what to expect. Upon arrival, Lale demonstrates his strength of character and intelligence, as he helps translate what the German guards are saying to the prisoners. Lale speaks several different languages and the Germans quickly see his value. Everyone who enters the concentration camp is given some kind of “job”. If a prisoner can continue in his/her job, then they have a chance at surviving. Lale is soon given the task of being the Tatowierer or tattooist, imprinting the number on the arm of prisoners as they enter the camp. His position as the tattooist entitles him to some extra privileges. Better housing, more food, the ability to move around the camp without being stopped, therefore allowing him to interact with more people. He is resourceful, collecting money, jewelry and saving extra food that he can share with the other prisoners. The money and jewelry are used at times to buy medicine for some of the sick prisoners, who would otherwise die. While performing his duties, he meets a young women, number 34902 named Gita. They form an unlikely relationship at a time when just getting enough to eat was a challenge each day.

The horrors and eventual liberation from the camp are witnessed everyday by Lale. He and Gita are separated as the camp beings to show signs of liberation. Even as the war is ending, Lale continues to show his strength.

She Was The Quiet One                      

Author:  Michele Campbell                    Fiction          

Reviewer: Nancy G.

Bel and Rose are twin sisters growing up in California with their Mother. The three are close, until their Mother dies from cancer. Since they are just teenagers, Bel and Rose move to the east coast to live with their wealthy Grandmother. Their Grandmother enrolls them into an elite boarding school. The girls' relationship is strained when Bel and Rose try to adjust to their new lives and new school. The school experiences a scandal caused by the group of girls Bel is associating with. The headmaster considered too old for the job is replaced with a younger male teacher who has less than a stellar past. His wife, a counselor at the school, is not supportive of her husband's promotion. Rose immerses herself into studying, helping with her adjustment to a new life. Bel, however, not studious, becomes friends with a group of girls known to stretch the rules and push boundaries. As the sisters relationship continues to decline, one of the twins is found murdered and the other one is accused of her murder.

Some sexual scenes.