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Review: A Sparrow in Terezin

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Review: A Sparrow in Terezin

10 Aug Posted by in Reviews | Comments Off on Review: A Sparrow in Terezin
Review: A Sparrow in Terezin

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambronasparrowinterezin
Reviewed by: Pam Graber
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Kristy Cambron’s “A Sparrow in Terezin” grabs you by the heart and never lets go. It is a reminder that 15,000 children were sent to Terezin during World War II and fewer than 100 survived.

The story takes place in two time periods, tying them together through the character of Sophie. Present day Sophie is an elderly, wise woman who has befriended art gallery owner, Sera James. The Sophie of 1942 was a 9-year-old Jewish orphan in Terezin whose parents were lost to her earlier. I found the “1942” sections of the book to be especially gripping and heart-wrenching but beautifully done.

At the beginning of “A Sparrow in Terezin”, Sera James is awaiting the start of her wedding to William Hanover with both anticipation and dread. Her anticipation is because she’s marrying the love of her life and the dread is because he’s being accused of possible fraud with an arrest imminent. No sooner do they say “I do” than their fears are realized and William is arrested. Jailed for something he did not do, William instructs Sera to let his lawyers handle everything but Sera, wanting to help, searches out William’s estranged father who welcomes her into his home but only creates more questions.

Can Sera prove Will’s innocence or will she prove that he lied to her? How will their marriage survive?

Kája Makovsky is the “star” of the history sections. At 21 she fled Prague, Czechoslovakia with her sister and brother-in-law, leaving just as the Nazis were beginning the deportation of Jews. Kája struggles mightily with the idea of leaving any of her family behind – her parents, uncles, aunts, cousins – but is convinced to leave when the Nazis begin to search the train cars, forcibly removing anyone wearing the Star of David sewn to their clothing. Kája and her sister, Hannah, had removed their stars in order to escape notice. Kája vows to return to her beloved city and save her parents once things settle down.

Traveling first to Palestine, Kája finishes her schooling and moves on to London where she finds work at The Daily Telegraph. Their ace reporter, Liam Marshall, takes an interest in Kája who is suspicious of his activities. She’s not there long before she realizes that the Nazi terror has followed her from Prague. The constant drone of air raid sirens becomes so commonplace that people ignore them when they are real. Caught in the devastation of the London Blitz, Kája is seriously injured. When she awakes she decides she is in as much danger in London as she ever was in Prague so, against Liam’s recommendation, she smuggles herself into Prague in a misguided attempt to rescue her parents. Little does she know that by reentering the city, she has signed her own transport papers.

Will Kája survive life in Terezin? Many Jews did not but at least one little girl, Sophie, lived to tell the story of her guardian angel, Kája, whose care for an orphan and courage against incredible odds led her to stay even when given the chance of escape.

While the two stories seem completely unrelated, Cambron ties all the strands together at the end of the book. Maybe I was so moved because I had seen a play based on “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” and was somewhat familiar with the children of Terezin. I honestly don’t think so. I couldn’t put it down and I’m betting no one else would be able to either. This is a MUST read!

Rated PG-13: Man’s inhumanity to man through the Nazi occupation of Europe is, at times, a bit gruesome and young children should read this with a parent ready and able to explain what they are reading.

Reviewer copy provided by Publisher. Thank you!


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