Published by The Liverpool Editing Company on December 3, 2018
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‘You wouldn’t have got close to me if you’d known who I was.’
After all, she had been taught to hate him too.
Alice Sommer, the half-Jewish daughter of a prominent German physicist, and Kurt Hertz, a troubled Hitler Youth from the poorest district of Berlin, couldn’t have less in common; but when they each find themselves on the run from the Gestapo, cast adrift aboard a ship of spies, refugees and resistance fighters, their destinies become inextricably linked.
With the ship becoming a matter of special interest to some of the most influential members of the Nazi Party, the stakes are raised even higher. Will Alice and Kurt be able to put aside their seemingly irreconcilable differences for the sake of their own lives?
For fans of Rose Under Fire, The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray
That is my review, thanks……Ok, it is not, but my god WHAT A BOOK. When Clare emailed all those many months ago about her book, I thought it would be good to step out of my comfort zone and read a genre that I do not tend to go near.
The amount of research that Clare has gone into with this story is amazing, she has captured the plight of the Jewish community trying to escape Germany during 1938 and 1939, based on the true story of the SS St Louis. This book is told by Alice and Kurt, the fictional characters.
Alice is shunned most of her life as she is half-Jewish and half-German, a “non-Aryan”, trying to reach her Dad who is locked up in the German camps. Seeking help from her old neighbour, Franz, who is a feared Gestapo and her father’s friend, “Uncle Max”, whilst Alice and her sister escape before they are caught.
Kurt, is a Hitler Youth, in hiding after begin wrongly accused of murdering his friend. Despising the ‘Jew’s but works with them to help people escape and survive, due to a turn of event
Both find their escape on a ship to Cuba.
The story is told over a span of 10 months, the book is fast paced but one you need to take your time reading. The fear is palpable from everyone, will they survive the journey? Will they make Cuba? Will they be accepted?
I have not read something so harrowing and based on a true story before. We all learned our history in school, but reading this just makes me realise how lucky we really are at this time. The pain, the destruction everyone had to go through not just in Germany but everywhere. Something that should not be dismissed so lightly.
Whilst this book is based on a true story, the characters are not. They do, however, make this story so much more hard-hitting, putting their religion, beliefs and fear aside all working together to survive and potentially find love and build a life.
I was racing through the pages, feeling the fear of everyone. Hoping we would have some sort of a happy ending but what I have been left with is a gaping hole, a cliffhanger and the need for more!! Things do not run smoothly on the ship, rejection at every turn, betrayal, conspiracies, spies and the constant threat of secrets being discovered has made this book hold such a special place in my heart.
When I picked up this book, I really did not know what to expect. What I didn’t expect would be how this book will stay with me. How I want to shout about this book from the rooftops and encourage EVERYONE to read this book. It is just beautiful. I could not put this book down, nor did I want to. Even though you need to take your time reading this to devour the words, I still felt like time was of the essence when reading because it felt like time was running out for everyone. I will be buying this book for a Christmas Present for sure. I do not honestly think I have expressed how truly special this book is, but I do encourage you to read it.
Clare, thank you so much for reaching out to me with your book. I am so glad I got to read something so amazing and magical as this, I hope it is not the last time I hear from Alice and Kurt.
This book needs to be sung about loudly and is definitely in my Top 10 of books for 2018!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: