The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff ~ 336 pages ~ to be published 5/4/2021 by Park Row
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.
What I Thought:
*I received this book for free from Netgalley and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
*Thank you to the people over at Harper Collins and Park Row for asking me to be part of this blog tour!!*
I love a good historical fiction novel, especially those set during WWII. I was excited when I heard about this book because it was set in Poland, and I don’t believe I have ever read another book about this time period that was set there. I always enjoy learning about a new place when I read historical fiction, which this book accomplished very well.
The setting was described very well. I felt like I was walking the streets of Kraków right along with the characters. There was such a sense of history in the feeling of the narrative, which can be difficult to achieve, that I thought Jenoff did very well.
As for characters, I have to say that both Sadie and Ella bothered me at first. They were both so very whiny. I understand that they were both dealing with really terrible and unfathomable circumstances that I am very privileged to not deal with, but I kept finding myself rolling my eyes at their seemingly ceaseless whining in the beginning of the story. After reading the rest of the book, I am glad to say that they both went through some significant, and much needed, character growth. I wanted to say this here because I’m not sure I would have pushed through with the book if I hadn’t had to finish it for this blog tour. So, when you pick this book up, just know that the characters get much better as the book goes along! Don’t give up on them! 🙂
Despite the beginning, I really liked the way that the relationship between Sadie and Ella developed. It was such a lovely demonstration of different circumstances in life yielding similar results: a girl very much in need of a friend. The give and take between the two girls was interesting and heart-warming to watch. I liked watching their friendship blossom as they both gained more maturity.
I found it so interesting that this book was based on a true story. The idea of having to survive in a sewer for months on end is both terrifying and inspiring. I absolutely cannot imagine myself enduring similar circumstances, but I guess anything is possible if you are given no other choice. The perseverance of these characters, and their real life counterparts, is truly awe-inspiring.
All in all, I found this book to be a good story of friendship, personal growth, and the triumph of the human spirit. The characters were not exactly to my personal taste, but it was still a really good read.
I gave The Woman with the Blue Star 3.5 Stars!
Are you interested in learning more about this book? Check out the links below!
Are you a fan of WWII novels? Have you read any that are set in Poland? Have you ever heard about the true story behind the novel? Let’s chat in the comments!
Love and happy reading,