Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Although it seems like far-off history, the events of World War II still loom large to help shape current events by learning from the atrocities of the past. In Lilac Girls, the reader sees parts of the war through the eyes of three women, each deeply affected by the war and firmly rooted in the middle of it.
Caroline is a New York socialite who loves the French people and culture. Her volunteer work helping out French families overseas is what first brings her into the war effort, even before America gets into the thick of it. It is, however, the love of a French actor that keeps her there for years to come.
Kasia is a young Polish teen. She has a crush on her male friend Pietrik, her is an accomplished doctor, and she is the favorite of her mother. When the war meets their front door, Kasia is determined to help the underground resistance fight for their freedom. Untfortunately, that leads her and the other female members of her family straight to Ravensbruck, the Nazi camp for women.
Herta is a patriotic German who has studied hard all her life to become a doctor. Although her dream is to perform surgeries, she knows she is destined to serve the people of Germany in the specialty of dermatology. When she gets a chance to practice more practical medicine, she takes a job at a rehabilitation camp for women—Ravensbruck. Once these women are set on their journey to survive in their own ways, it creates a perfect storm where these women wouldn't be who they are without their interactions with each other.
The book is written in such a way that the problems and deep suffering that these women have comes on like a quiet breeze, but can quickly turn into a raging storm, much like how the war itself developed on the people in Europe and throughout the world. This is a book that provides readers with an important story of the women of World War II and how they had to manage through difficult and life-altering situations in the midst of death and destruction. This is a must-read for anyone that wants to know more about the civilian side of war and for those who want to make sure these stories, whether nonfiction or fictionalized, are continued to be told.
*Received a copy of this book from Peguin First to Read
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