"A touching story of heroism and loss, a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of love to transcend the most unthinkable circumstances."
—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
From the internationally bestselling author of The Orphan Collector comes a haunting and lyrical tale of love and humanity in a time of unthinkable horror. The debut novel from a powerful voice in historical fiction, this resonant and courageous saga of a young German woman during World War II and the Holocaust is a must-read for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Alice Network.
“Bloom where you're planted," is the advice Christine Bölz receives from her beloved Oma. But seventeen-year-old domestic Christine knows there is a whole world waiting beyond her small German village. It's a world she's begun to glimpse through music, books—and through Isaac Bauerman, the cultured son of the wealthy Jewish family she works for.
Yet the future she and Isaac dream of sharing faces greater challenges than their difference in stations. In the fall of 1938, Germany is changing rapidly under Hitler's regime. Anti-Jewish posters are everywhere, dissenting talk is silenced, and a new law forbids Christine from returning to her job—and from having any relationship with Isaac. In the months and years that follow, Christine will confront the Gestapo's wrath and the horrors of Dachau, desperate to be with the man she loves, to survive—and finally, to speak out.
Set against the backdrop of the German homefront, this is an unforgettable novel of courage and resolve, of the inhumanity of war, and the heartbreak and hope left in its wake.
"A haunting and beautiful debut novel."
—Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August
"Ellen Marie Wiseman boldly explores the complexities of the Holocaust. This novel is at times painful, but it is also a satisfying love story set against the backdrop of one of the most difficult times in human history."
—T. Greenwood, author of Keeping Lucy
Christine B lz is living in a German village at the beginning of the Third Reich, where she and her family work as domestics for the Jewish Bauermans. Although from disparate backgrounds, a spark ignites between the teenage Christine and young Isaac Bauerman. When Isaac is arrested and taken to Dachau, Christine is left behind to sort through conflicting notions of loyalty, love, and nationality. She begins to follow the Jewish prisoners being marched to Dachau, sneaking them food, yet always keeping her distance from the German guards, not wanting "them to think that, just because she was a citizen of this nation run by madmen, she too was a Jew hater." Christine helps Isaac make a daring escape, and hides him for some time in her family's attic, but he is eventually found and sent back, along with Christine, to Dachau. Stories of WWII rarely look at the lives of the average German; Wiseman eschews the genre's usual military conflicts in favor of the slow, inexorable pressure of daily life during wartime, lending an intimate and compelling poignancy to this intriguing debut.
Love wins at great costs!
This is a beautiful story, but also full of realistic frightening and sad sets of happenings. Loved it! Taking place, mostly in Germany, I have spent lots of time there. My German friends live in Munchen and Dachau so I really related to the plot. Yes, I have been a visitor to the concentration camp, four times so have witnessed the transformations as a tourist site. In 1977, nobody was there so we truly felt the experience, amidst the drizzles and gray clouds. An American friend had been a liberator of the camp and had shared his incredible experiences with us. The author certainly performed a magnificent research. Thanks!
I was on the edge of my seat the whole book. Beautifully written!
I’ve read a plethora of Historical Fiction books about the Holocaust, but this book is special. At one point, it was so heavy that I almost had to put it down and walk away. I’m so glad that I didn’t. The ending was perfect and exactly what I needed after the author broke my heart haha!!