Book Review

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: World War II Historical Ficiton
Length: 502 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. 

WHAT A BOOK.

WOW. This is the one of the best historical fictions about World War 2 that I have ever read. This was utterly amazing. Made me want to cry, throw things, and feel all sorts of emotions. I barely recognized how long the book actually was, it kept me interested and involved the entire time.

We had Catherine, an older woman in NY who falls in love with a man that has a life back in Paris. She spends her wars years hoping that Paul is okay and raising money and items for all those she can. I loved her personality and hope she held onto, until she didn’t. UGH. I hoped for a more complete ending for her, but I also understood. This wasn’t a book for happy endings, but enduring til the end.

Kaisa destroyed me from one end of this book to the other. She was the subject of horrid trials at Ravensbruck. Her story line caused me to struggle the most. I hadn’t heard much history from the women’s concentration camp and I loved the focus this author put on it. I learned so much and yet again had to cope with how awful humanity can be. Watching Kaisa encounter trial after trial brought out so many emotions.

I can hardly talk about Herta, but I’m also glad she was in the book. It was an interesting perspective to have someone who was pro-German during the time period. She made me so angry, but having this unique take compared to the two others balanced the entire story.

These three characters (that were based off of people actually involved in the war) was outstanding and well thought out. I couldn’t put this book down.

Note: this book does not hold back on describing what happened. Please read at your own caution.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction about WW2
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: whips, guns, death by animal mauling, starvation
  • Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, mention of self harm, self-harming (by cutting), attempted suicide, child abuse, PTSD, surgical experimentation, loss of loved ones

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