The Blurb (from Goodreads):
In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality–and that it’s the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.
Using Sara’s credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara’s cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm’s way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever.
From Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, The Warsaw Orphan is the unforgettable story of Elzbieta and Roman’s perilous attempt to reclaim the love and life they once knew.
I’m a big fan of Kelly Rimmer – she has a warm, intimate writing style that just flows beautifully. This book is set in Warsaw during the war years, a time and place I have always been interested in (I have actually written a story that draws upon the same setting, called ‘The Blessing’, which was published in The Silver Well, a collection of stories co-written with Kim Wilkins). The narrative is told from two first-person points-of-view. The first is Roman Gorka, a Jewish teenager locked up in the Warsaw ghetto with his family. The second is Elzbieta Rabinek, a girl who wonders sometimes what lies beyond the high walls of the ghetto. When she makes friends with her neighbour, a nurse who works secretly to save children from the ghetto, she is drawn into the dangerous world of the underworld resistance to the Nazi occupiers. The story follows their struggles to survive, the forced evacuations, the famous ghetto uprising, the later battle to liberate Warsaw from the German occupation and the infamous Soviet invasion. It’s a heart-rending struggle, and brought me to tears more than once. What I loved most about The Warsaw Orphan is how real it was – the story of two young people struggling to survive in a world gone mad, fighting hate, injustice and tyranny, and their own conflicted emotions, trying to discover how to build a life in the ashes of a terrible war. A truly beautiful book.