Genre: Historical Fiction/WWII
Buy this Book: Amazon, Powell's, Indiebound
Summary from publisher:
In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naïve teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. But in the waning days of the Nazi empire, with food scarce and fears of sedition mounting, even the private yearnings of teenage girls were subject to suspicion and suppression. Elsie’s courtship by Josef Hub, a rising star in the Army of the Third Reich, has insulated her and her family from the terror and desperation overtaking her country. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door puts all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is a rolling stone, perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a full-time fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba knows that in every good story, lines will be blurred.
Reba's latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie's German Bakery is no easy subject. Elsie keeps turning the tables on Reba, and Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba's questions have been a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki's lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
I knew I would like this book the minute I started reading. The writing style just clicked for me immediately.
This one tells the story of Reba, a modern woman working as a journalist and living in El Paso, and Elsie, the teenage daughter of a baker living in WWII Germany. I have to admit the minute I saw that one of the characters was named Reba, I cringed a little and prepared myself for Southern clichés but I was so happy to find that there weren’t any. I loved reading both women’s stories. Both were equally interesting and entertaining. I did become a little more engrossed in the Elsie’s story simply because it taught me something new about WWII. I had no idea what the Lebensborn Program was but I’m now just a little bit fascinated by it.
I have read many novels where the author tries to manage two separate timelines and storylines. Sometimes they manage it well and sometimes it’s a disaster but it’s never perfect. This is one of the few times where I can say that it was as close to perfect as you can get. I was equally engaged in both Reba and Elsie’s stories because they were both written with equal skill, researched well and balanced beautifully. I loved how both Reba and Elsie’s stories intertwined. I also love a good epistolary novel and I love the sections of letters. And thank you from the bottom of my baker’s heart for including the recipes. I will be trying out a few—eh, who am I kidding…probably all of them.
This one is definitely on my keeper shelf. I am not ashamed to say that it made me tear up a little.
*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.