It is March 1942. After the loss of her family, fourteen year old Emilia Slaska is living in Warsaw with a childless couple and has been renamed Elzbieta Rabinek. While life in Poland is hard for everyone under Nazi rule, Elzbieta knows that there is even greater suffering behind the walls of the nearby Warsaw Ghetto, which is filled with several hundred thousand Jewish families. Fearing for Elzbieta's safety, her new parents won’t let her leave their apartment. She secretly meets with her neighbor Sara who is a nurse and joins her during visits within the Warsaw Ghetto where she appears to be providing medical aid. But Sara’s true mission is to smuggle Jewish children out of the ghetto and relocate them to safety. While on one of her trips to the ghetto, Elizbieta meets Roman Gorka, who is trying to protect his family as the Nazis have started transporting thousands to concentration camps.
The Warsaw Orphan is a highly emotional, gripping story which takes the reader through the Warsaw Uprising, the aftermath of the war and the Soviet occupation. If you have read author Kelly Rimmer’s book The Things We Cannot Say, you will recognize Emilia. Elzbieta develops a strong bond with Roman who becomes an angry young man seeking revenge and is willing to risk everything. The characters in this book are so well-developed, you will feel for each of them. The realism of their experiences and depth of despair during such a horrendous period makes this a heartbreaking and unforgettable book. World War II-themed novels are never easy to read but help tell valuable stories of the strength of the human spirit and incredible heroism. In the Author’s Note at the end, we learn that this book was inspired by real-life Polish nurse and resistance activist, Irena Sendler, who smuggled Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto to safety. I hope you check out this wonderful book. It's another impressive achievement for Rimmer who is an auto-read author for me.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: June 1, 2021.
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