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Books of the Week June 17-21

Book Reviews by Katie Sparkman

Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Young Adult Fiction

This book took hold of me and wouldn’t let go until the last page. While a few of the characters were fictional, there are actual people mentioned throughout. Chaya Linder is a 16 year old Jewish girl living in Nazi-occupied Europe. This is her story and the story of her people. She is a courier for a Jewish resistance group that consists of teenagers, and she makes her way into the ghettos to smuggle in food and necessities to those that reside there. As time goes on, she experiences the atrocities of war and sees things no one, especially not a young person, should ever have to see. But it is now engrained in her brain that she, along with her fellow resistance fighters, must fight back. And before long, she is thrust headfirst into the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and is in toe to toe combat with German soldiers who have but one thing on their mind.

She is one smart young lady and knows her way around the ghettos while avoiding German soldiers. She knows how to acquire certain ammo and weapons and how to make and use Molotov cocktails. Even though she is fictional, there were a lot of actual teenagers that were resistance fighters, just like her. They went through so much and most came out on the other side, but they are all heroes. So much happens from the first page to the last but this is a part of history that we tend to not acknowledge much, at least I don’t. You don’t really think about much past the battles of World War II but the Jewish and Polish people..what they experienced is absolutely heartbreaking. But they are some of the most resilient people on this planet, even in the midst of the chaos and tragedy that was happening around them.

“When thrust into a situation as intense and traumatic as war, and facing possible extermination, no two people will respond in the same way. Some will collapse, others will betray and others will try to ignore the calamity. But in those same circumstances, some will emerge with honor and rise as heroes. However, it is important to note that of the horrifying and extraordinary nature of the Holocaust, any attempt to judge the actions of anyone through a “normal” lens will likely reflect a poor understanding of just how difficult the circumstances were. May we never forget. May we live with honor at all times, regardless of our circumstances. And may we choose love, a weapon that will defeat hate every single time. Love is the resistance.”

In memory of the brave resistance fighters who risked everything for their country, for their people. They got their “three lines in history.”

With This Pledge by Tamera Alexander

Fiction/Christian Fiction

The Civil War is raging on and at the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, owned by Col. And Mrs. John McGavock, they were living their lives as best as they could with their two young children and their children’s governess, Elizabeth Clouston. But on November 30, 1864, they were unwillingly plunged headfirst into the war when the bloody Battle of Franklin ensued on their front door step, so to speak. The home was then made into a Confederate field hospital. And countless, upon countless numbers of wounded and dying soldiers were cared for within and outside Carnton’s wall, thanks to the kindness of the McGavocks, Miss Lizzie and Doc Phillips.

It didn’t take long for me to get so attached to these people, because they were actual people, with the exception of a few, whose story is now being told. Elizabeth Clouston. Captain Roland Ward Jones, First Battalion, Mississippi Sharpshooters, Adams’ Brigade. Colonel John and Mrs. Carrie McGavock. Hattie and Winder McGavock. Tempy and George. Lt. James Campbell Shuler. Lt. Conrad. Sisters Catherine Margaret and Mary Grace. I couldn’t help but get emotional when it came to them and to other soldiers and generals that were mentioned.

Having been to Carnton and seen the blood stained floors, myself, it made this book all the more real and I felt such a connection to everyone. It’s as if I were there alongside Lizzie as she assisted the good Doctor Phillips with surgeries and amputations of the soldiers who were convalescing at the home, including Jones and Shuler. Like I was there to see the relationship between Lizzie and Captain Jones blossom into something quite beautiful. And that is when you know you have a good book in your hands, when it feels like you are there. I commend Tamera Alexander for such and amazing, heart-wrenching novel that I couldn’t put down. And to know God is there, even in the midst of war is comforting.