Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm struggling to write this review, because although I did enjoy the book, for me it did not quite live up to the ratings others have given it. I usually love historical fiction work, especially stories about the Holocaust, as they present so many opportunities for deep emotional connections, but while it was an intriguing story, Lilac Girls missed the mark somewhat for me. The book is divided into the stories of three different women during World War II, a young German doctor, a young polish girl and a NY socialite. Each of their perspectives were vastly different and it was hard to see how the author would bring them together. The characters were well developed and felt believable, and it was interesting to view the Holocaust from the polish perspective, since much of the work usually centers on the jewish populations who were tortured and killed, but as I read, I felt like there were missing pieces to the story and the author missed many opportunities to really expand on the struggles of these women. It was also hard to feel sorry for Caroline pawning her family silver while simultaneously reading about polish women being tortured and shot. It was fairly predictable that the doctor, Herta would somehow have dealings with Kasia, but the relationship between Kasia's mother and the doctor was never fully explained. The author tried to build suspense about what happened to Kasia's mother, but the big reveal moment was underwhelming, which was another missed opportunity to make the story stronger. The details of Kasia, as one of the infamous 'rabbits' and the horrors she endured was very compelling. I felt like there was more room to expand on the life in camp and the details of their escape. The end of the story was somewhat disappointing as nearly 10 years had passed and then Caroline somehow finds all of these girls and is able to bring them to America, right in the middle of the cold war. As the reader I felt like I had missed so much information about what had happened after the war, and how Caroline was able to find these girls. I am struggling to choose between 3 and 4 stars, because I really did enjoy the book, but I felt like it could have been so much better.

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Fly Away (Firefly Lane, #2)Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The story focuses on a few central characters who are facing the devastating loss of their wife, mother and best friend. Johnny is consumed by his grief and unable to be there effectively to help his teenage daughter and his wife's best friend. Marah is a teenager who is completely overwhelmed by the loss of her mother and she makes some decisions that take her down a very dark path. Tully is the best friend, who feels completely  adrift without the support of her friend. All three characters struggle to face their grief and wind up hurting each other in the process, until another tragedy brings them back together. When I picked up this book I didn't realize it was part of a series, and that might have helped somewhat, but overall I found Fly Away to be depressing and heavy at times. The author does a great job of sharing the real and raw emotions of grief and loss and regret, but sometimes it felt too heavy, as if nothing could go right. Fly Away is a challenging book that pulls back the silent layers of grief when a loved one dies.

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