*I received a copy of this book for review, but was not compensated financially in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based solely on my experiences while reading this book.*
Title: For Such a Time
Author: Kate Breslin
In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.
Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?
When a book is about the holocaust you know your heart strings will be tugged a lot throughout the length of the story. Sometimes I wonder why I pick them up in the first place; when my cheeks are streaked with tears and I just want to go and hug my children to my chest and never let them go. But I can’t help but be drawn to these stories. There is a need to remember the horrors of the holocaust, that despite everything faith and hope still lingered for so many desperate people. For Such A Time is such a great example of that faith.
First off, I must say that if you want an accurate historical fiction piece, this is not the book for you. The author herself writes a letter at the end explaining that she took many liberties to make the story work. I do appreciate that she takes the time to clarify what is true and what was changed to help in the telling of the story, but you won’t find as much history as you normally do within an historical fiction piece. However, the experiences of those in the ghetto are a true reflection on what life was like for these poor people.
I truly loved Stella as a character and I found her interaction with the Kommandant very interesting. Her mixed feelings towards him were warranted. On the one hand he had rescued her and showed that he was capable of compassion, but on the other he withheld that compassion time and time again when it mattered the most to the lives of thousands of people. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say that I was extremely happy with the progression of the characters and where they all ended up being by the end of the book.
I’ve read many books pertaining to the holocaust but none of them quite drew me in the same way For Such A Time did. I think that’s because most stories focus on experience of the Jews and you walk away from the story horrified and haunted by what humanity is capable of. For Such A Time focused on the religious side of things. That even though Jew and Gentile have very different beliefs, they each still believe in God and that belief can lift you up even in the most horrifying of circumstances if you let it.
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