2016, 192p, Historical Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not affect my review in any way
In a bombed-out Polish village during World War II a young resistance fighter finds that he is suddenly alone and trapped between two opposing armies. He is one of Poland's "Devil's Rebels" fighting desperately to save his homeland, but an injury has erased his memory and his only possession is a torn photograph of a couple he assumes are his parents. The woman appears to be holding the hand of a young child whose image has been ripped off. Could the child be him?
Caught in the crosshairs of the retreating German army and the advancing Russian forces, the village holds nothing but destruction and despair until a mysterious young woman offers a small glimmer of hope that may represent his last chance - news of a refuge train departing from a nearby town headed for American installations at the border. But complications arise when the resistance fighter is betrayed by his own countryman and hunted by German SS Officers who are determined to kill him before they retreat. Desperately searching for a home and family he can't remember he is persuaded to rescue two children who are doomed to die without his help.
As time runs out the former rebel is faced with an impossible choice. Standing at the crossroads of saving himself or risking his life for strangers, what would motivate a young man at the brink of salvation to make one more sacrifice?
This book is amazing! It takes place during a dark and dreary time (WWII), but the underlying message is hope. It's about a soldier who heads home to Poland, but he has no memory in the beginning of who he is. There is someone, however, who knows exactly who he is, so his life is in danger. As his memory slowly returns, he realizes that someone is after him, and it becomes a race for him to get to the refuge train before he is found.
There are quite a few characters introduced in the beginning so it's a little slower, but the pace quickly picks up and it was hard to put down. The tension built as we were able to see the story from several different viewpoints and it became a race to a certain location.
The author's descriptions of life during that time were so realistic that I felt like I was there, feeling the fear and devastation the people must have felt. It's a somber book yet it doesn't feel too heavy and illustrates the power of courage and hope. I enjoyed getting to know each of the characters and their back stories which helped to understand why they were behaving in certain ways. This book is well-written and eye-opening and it will stay with me for a while.