I received a copy of The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff from TLC Book Tours in exchange for my review. Remember when I reviewed Number The Stars and The Nightingale and I mentioned how interesting it is that there are so many stories from the time of the Holocaust and that there is always more to learn? This book was yet another example of that, telling a story about something I never knew existed during the war – a circus. What’s also funny is that many important scenes in the book take place on or near a train and I keep thinking of this book as The Orphan Train – which is a different book entirely!
“Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.”
The scene in which Noa finds the boxcar full of babies is harrowing. She acts on instinct and later wishes she’d been able to save more than one baby. Instead, she saves just one. And yet, by doing so, she changes that baby’s fate as well as her own. Noa meets Astrid, a Jewish woman who hides her identity as a member of the circus, and they become close friends. The scenes of the trapeze performances are as suspenseful as the ones that address the war going on around the circus family. The variety of complex characters was welcome and interesting. The ending was unexpected, but satisfying.
This book is on a variety of lists of historical fiction books that one should be sure to read and I have to agree with that recommendation.
What have you been reading lately?