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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

24 / 30 books. 80% done!

20 Books of Summer 2023

My Progress:

17 / 20 books. 85% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (2)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (12)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (3)
- Delaware (1)
- Florida (1)
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho (1)
- Illinois
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (3)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (3)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri (1)
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (12)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota (1)
- Ohio (3)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (4)
- Utah (1)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia
- Washington (6)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (2)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


- Australia (3)
- Canada (7)
- Chile (1)
- England (21)
- France (2)
- Ireland (2)
-Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- South Korea (1)
- Sweden (1)
- The Netherlands (2)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

45 / 51 states. 88% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 25 books. 100% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

51 / 52 books. 98% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

46 / 52 books. 88% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

35 / 40 books. 88% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 25 books. 64% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

93 / 109 books. 85% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Based-On-a-True-Story Historical Novel Heartbreaking and Authentic

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

For farm girl Stefania "Fusia" Podgórska, nothing is as exciting as life in the city of Przemysl, Poland.  Delighted to be free of pigsty stink and the endless clucking of chickens, the 13-year-old takes a job in a grocery store owned by the Diamants, a kind Jewish family.  Four years later, she has become like a daughter to them.  Unbeknownst to Mr. and Mrs. Diamant, the 17-year-old, who is Catholic, is secretly engaged to their son, Izio.  Although she hides the secret from her adopted family, there is nothing she wouldn't do for the Diamants.  

When Poland is invaded by the German Army, Przemysl is not spared.  Jews are being rounded up and shipped off to places unknown.  As residents disappear, the city becomes a ghost town.  Fusia is left on her own, the only person who can care for Helena, her 6-year-old sister.  Then, comes a knock on her apartment door.  Max Diamant, Izio's older brother, has jumped from a death camp train.  He begs Fusia to hide him from the Nazis.  Determined to save her friend, she complies.  It's not long before word spreads and Fusia finds herself sheltering not just Max, but twelve other Jews in the small house she's now renting.  While she does everything she can to feed and protect her charges, her situation is becoming increasingly desperate.  

Another knock on Fusia's door changes things once again.  This time, it's two Nazi officers requisitioning her house.  Unable to refuse their demands, the terrified young woman begins a tense tightrope walk to keep her Nazi house "guests" distracted, her Jewish refugees hidden, and her precocious little sister from running her mouth and dooming them all.  

I've read all but one of Sharon Cameron's unique, imaginative YA novels, so I was shocked when I learned her newest was historical fiction in the most traditional sense.  The Light in Hidden Places is based on the wartime experiences of Stefania Podgórska, who really did hide more than a dozen Jews in the same home where Nazi officers lived.  It's an extraordinary story of courage, daring, and compassion.  While Fusia's dangerous efforts to defy the Nazis are not anything that WWII fiction lovers haven't read about before, they still make for a suspenseful, awe-inspiring story.  In Cameron's capable hands, the reader can really feel the characters' terror as their situation grows more and more desperate.  Thanks to her careful depictions of them, Cameron's story people stand out as not just empathetic, but also human and authentic.  It's impossible not to root for their survival.  The author's note at the end of the novel explains the true fates of the people in the story, which makes the tale that much more real.  Cameron is a writer I've long admired and The Light in Hidden Places just solidifies her place as a favorite.  I loved this novel as much as I have her others.  I'll always be on the lookout for more from her.

To learn more about Stefania, visit The Stefi Foundation.  A 1996 TV movie called Hidden in Silence also tells her story.  In addition, an interview with Helena Podgórska can be viewed on Sharon Cameron's website. 

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Diary of Anne Frank and other World War II/Holocaust novels)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, scenes of peril, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Light in Hidden Places from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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