Monday, August 18, 2014

The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 18, 2014

One woman's determination to protect a child from the dangers of war will force her to face those lurking closer to home... Life in rural Poland during WWII brings a new set of challenges to Maria, estranged from her own family and left alone with her in-laws after her husband is sent to the front. For a young, newly pregnant wife, the days are especially cold, the nights unexpectedly lonely. The discovery of a girl hiding in the barn changes everything—Hannah is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her to special camps. Ignoring the risk to her own life and that of her unborn child, Maria is compelled to help. But in these dark days, no one can be trusted, and soon Maria finds her courage tested in ways she never expected and herself facing truths about her own family that the quiet village has kept buried for years...

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Pam Jenoff is one of my favorite authors. I've enjoyed her work for several years and love what she does with World War II fiction. Her latest release, The Other Girl is a novella, a companion piece to The Winter Guest, and though I've yet to finish the novel, I found the short interesting for the perspective it brought to the larger story. 

Naturally there isn't a lot of character development, but one can't help empathizing with Maria. A young woman, alone in a small Polish village, she struggles to make peace with her personal situation and understand the changes wrought by German occupation. I don't want to spoil anything, but suffice it to say her brief experience with Hannah and Janusz is quite moving. 

Understandably, I have difficulty stating a short is a must read, but the piece is certainly worth looking into if World War II fiction is something you find appealing.  

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Most villagers were just trying to survive. They were not complicit with the Germans like her own traitorous father, but it was hard to imagine them risking their own lives for a person they didn't know...
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