Friday, July 4, 2014

Review ~ For Such a Time by Kate Breslin

Hello Friends!

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!! Sorry I've been away for so long. Life has been crazy!

Today I have a fantastic book for you by debut author Kate Breslin. It is entitled For Such a Time and is an incredible re-telling of the story of Esther during World War II.  I received my copy in exchange for my honest review from the publisher, Bethany House, but this is a book I will gladly go buy for myself and for others. This is one of those books that I couldn't put down, and absolutely enjoyed! I cannot believe that I'd never thought of writing Esther during WWII before, but I'm sure glad somebody did - and so well at that. Ok, on to the review:

Summary (as provided by the publisher)In 1944, blonde 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? 

What I liked: First, I loved how closely the book followed the biblical story of Esther. It was fun to refresh myself on the original version and then kind of see where the book was heading, but still wondering how it would all actually play out. The story itself was engaging and unique. I've read dozens of WWII stories both fiction and non-fiction, and this is in my top three favorites for sure, and probably the most innovative of them all.

The character development was great too. Ms. Breslin brought Stella(Hadassah), Aric(Xerxes) and the rest to life. I felt like I really got to know each character, both good and bad, and it really helped me get a better feel for both what happened to the Jews in WWII and what happened to them during the life of Esther.

Stella and Aric's romance is wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. I loved getting another glimpse of what might have happened with Esther.

I also enjoyed the spiritual aspect of the book. Stella struggled with the idea of the Christian God and reconciling it with her Jewish faith. Aric also had to reconcile his beliefs with his allegiance to the Nazi Party.

What I didn't care for: There wasn't really anything that stood out to me that I can recall. However, at times the story did get a bit graphic. Nothing out of the ordinary for books such as this, but it might be a bit intense for younger readers. I'd recommend they be at least teens.

This is one of those books that has stayed with me in the months since I have read it, and it is definitely on my re-read list. Ms. Breslin showed me a side of the Holocaust I hadn't really seen before, and told the story of Esther in an intriguing way that kept me reading until the wee hours of the night. She had me weeping at times, and sighing at others. I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves WWII, Biblical, or romantic fiction.

Happy Readings!

Sarah K.