BOOK REVIEW: The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

Title: The Woman with the Blue Star
Author: Pam Jenoff
Publication: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Park Row Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.


**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

I’m a huge historical fiction fan. I’m even more of a WWII Historical Fiction fan. I love reading stories of survival or strength that came from those on the side of good during WWII. I knew I had to read The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff as soon as I read the description.

The story follows Sadie, a jewish girl hiding in the sewers with her family and others as German soldiers take away all the Jews from their homes and burn their part of the city to the ground. Then we have Ella, a polish girl who has some clearance to wander the city thanks to her aunt’s relationship with the German soldiers. But Ella doesn’t feel that way and soon finds herself helping Sadie.

This story is so heartbreaking. While the strength of the characters is beyond comprehension, what they are forced to do and handle is more than most people could do. I absolutely love the characters that Jenoff wrote. They are strong, but also have moments where they just can’t be strong and show this level of vulnerability that makes your heart shatter into a million pieces. Ella is meek at times, but silently fierce at others. She is doing things to help that she doesn’t even realize she is doing. Sadie is my superhero at this point. She survives because it is all she knows to do and knows that she doesn’t have a choice otherwise. I felt so many different things while reading this book. I felt hope, angst, stress, worry, love, and pure and utter sadness. The fact that Jenoff could make me feel so much in 400 pages just shows the kind of writer she is. Absolutely flawless. Not only that, but the story was well thought out and flowed seamlessly, even as we jumped between Ella and Sadie.

The story never had a boring moment. I was intrigued and flipping pages from the very first moment. I wanted to know what was happening and how it would end. I also was not expecting the ending at all. I thought I knew what most historical fiction novels in this time ended like. One of two things happen. Either they survive and we see what happened to them after the war, or they die. That’s it. This one has a bit of a twist I didn’t see coming and I really appreciated. It was a really sad, happy ending, if that makes sense.

Will I read Pam Jenoff again? Absolutely! Without a doubt. The Women with the Blue Star was hauntingly beautiful and soul crushingly sad all wrapped into one. I already have her next book ready to start and I cannot wait to read them off. She is definitely a new favorite of mine.

Pick up your copy of The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff on May 4 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. Check out more work from author Pam Jenoff on her website HERE.

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10 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff

  1. I was excited to read The Woman With The Blue Star but so disappointed because the author seemed to copy the same theme and many similar elements of The Girl With The Green Sweater written about 12 years prior. It’s also about a girl and her family that survives in the sewer with the help of a Polish plumber. There was a Polish movie adapted from this book, In Darkness.
    So while this is a nice read I kept feeling like Jenoff wrote a very similar book.

  2. I would like someone to explain the ending of the The Woman with the Blue Star. I understood it to be that Sadie died while Ella was trying to rescue her and get her out of the sewer . Ella manages to save herself . But in the epilogue it reveals that Ellla died . Sadie takes on Ella’s name becomes a doctor and her sister finds her under the name of Ella.
    I am totally perplexed with this ending. I hope someone can explain all this to me.

      1. But—the dialogue was extensive with Sadie being swept away & Elle meeting Saul. Then epilogue negates all the last chapter. What did I miss?

        1. I actually had to go back and re-read it for it all to click. I would recommend that definitely! It really helped me to know the outcome and go back and read what happened and how it played out.

  3. Please help me understand. I enjoyed the book, but I just don’t understand who Saul met at the end. Why was he so devastated if it was Ella who died and not Sadie? I can see that the author stopped identifying the voices near the end so we are led to believe that Sadie died and not Ella…but I don’t get the part when one of them gets out of the sewer and Saul comes to meet her.

  4. I loved the book, but I’m very confused. I understand that the author sort of “tricked us” by not identifying the voice while Sadie and Ella were in the collapsing and flooding sewer tunnel toward the end. We were led to believe that Ella got out and Sadie drowned after Ella threw her back into the flood waters so the Germans wouldn’t find her body. (I can appreciate that twist.). But what I don’t understand is the meeting with Saul after “she” got out of the sewer. Saul acted devastated as if he had lost the love of his life, Sadie. That interchange between whoever made it out and Saul, seemed much more like an interchange between Ella and Saul. But the epilogue says that Ella never made it out of the sewer…so are we to believe that the interchange between Saul and “her” was between Saul and Sadie and he was devastated by the loss of Ella? That scene at the riverside outside of the sewer just doesn’t seem to fit with the epilogue. Please help me understand.

    1. I do agree. It was a bit confusing. I actually went back and read that section where the sewer was coming down after I read the ending and I feel like it made more sense to me. I think it was just overall despair. They didn’t want anyone to die. I found the twist at the end, while confusing at first, to be the perfect ending to that story.

    2. I loved this book. Sadie did survive. Ella had given Sadie her identification card so that Sadie could survive on the outside. Also, it was not Saul that met her when she came out of the sewer, but Krys (the love of Ella’s life). He was the one that was devastated over the loss of Ella since he loved her.

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