BOOK REVIEW: The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Title: The Book of Lost Names
Author: Kristin Harmel
Publication: May 25, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 416

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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

REVIEW:

Honestly, this book has been on my radar since it was published in 2020.  I had put it on my wish list and my Goodreads list as well.  Well, when my birthday last year came around I snatched this up from Target for a part of “me” day.  It also helped that it had a wonderful 20% off sticker stuck to the front of it.  I admit like 90% of my books, got relegated to my TBR pile until the time was right.  Imagine my surprise when my bestie picked it out to be the August book club read for the book club we run.  I was excited to dig into it as I had heard so many good things. 

Eva is a Jew.  She is also studying Literature in College and is working at the Sorbonne. That all changes in a flash when she is babysitting with her mother and watches her father get taken away in \a Jewish roundup in Paris.  She attempts to save her father by going to save him but finds out he has been taken to Auschwitz.  What she decides next after a local priest finds out she is talented at forgery changes the trajectory of her life and her mother’s life forever.   This book was amazing.  It gave me all the feels.  I didn’t want it to end and found myself looking forward to reading it every night when I got a free moment. I loved every minute of the book.  It was well written and made me want more.  My only complaint about the book was the character of the mother.  I couldn’t stand her.  Yes, I know that she had something terrible happen to her and something that most people dread happening during that time if you were a Jew or a sympathizer but come on. At a certain point you need to pull on your big girl panties and contiue on with life.  She did not do that she continued to wallow in self pity until the very end of the book.

I loved the character of Eva.  She was plucky and even though she was a Jew and knew that what she was getting into she still wanted to do it.  She wanted to make a difference and this was the way she knew how.  Using the talents that she had.  The romance between Eva and the other main character Remy was so sweet.  It highlighted the anger that the mother felt for her falling for a Catholic boy and not someone of her own religion which is still a big deal in some Jewish circles to this day.  It was filled with excitement and I am embarrassed to admit that I actually cried the last three chapters.  Books when I am invested in them just really get to me sometimes.  Thankfully my children where not present to watch me sob over imaginary characters like they were last time.  I have already recommended this book to my sister. I will say that this book gave me The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff vibes, it was just that sort of good book.  I actually have another book by this author on my shelf and I believe that it is a romance since it’s called the Art of French Kissing.  I can’t wait to read it!  

About Elizabeth Cole

Stay-at-home mom to two children and one toddler. I love to read, travel (haven't done it in a while), and cook. Born and raised in Three Rivers, Michigan and currently, reside in Northern Michigan. Can't wait to start sharing my book thoughts/ reviews with you!!

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