Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Saving Amelie

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by stories about people, stories of loss and hope, stories of overcoming adversity. Not many people were overly surprised when I discovered the world of fiction based upon those who lived through the world wars, especially those who survived with disabilities.

Over the years I have read many novels from well known to well written to those best left upon the shelf, either way it was no surprise that eventually I'd find my way to Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke.

Saving Amelie is a recent novel from Tyndale publishing following the character of Rachel Kramer, a young woman on the cusp of finally chasing down her dreams, providing she accompany her scientist father back to Germany for one last visit to the Institute she has visited since childhood. During her visit Rachel discovers the life she has always known may not be one based upon the truth and she must choose which path she intends to follow.

I really liked this book, as in stay up late, can't put it down, have to find out what happens to the characters kind of like. Although I've read a lot of material based on WWII, it is rare for me to find a novel I can appreciate where one main characters been disabled, even though this group were also highly persecuted along with many others during that era. In fact, the beliefs of genetic superiority and racial superiority's effect on the disabled population in Nazi occupied territory is the main group which bears exploration within Gohlke's tale, both through the eyes of young Amelie as well as through the wrestlings of the prejudiced Rachel who is learning to form her own beliefs for the first time in her life.

As a disabled individual, it was refreshing to see a novel which willingly addresses this portion of history while still maintaining awareness of other events, despite the deceptively peaceful locale of the story's main plot. Given that Saving Amelie is published by Tyndale, I was concerned that there would be some glossing over of the more serious nature of the events being shared yet was surprised to find Gohlke willing to address equally serious topics such as murder and sterilization as the story warranted, though the book did maintain its overall hopeful mood.

Each of the main characters: Rachel, Lea, Oma, Amelie, Jason, Fredierich, and Rivka were each given their own plot line that realistically interacted with and stood apart from the others while highlighting the different struggles that occurred during the war, each representing their own group and giving insight through the characters struggle.

Personally, I would easily recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys WWII fiction, Christian fiction, or modern historical romance. 4.5 stars out of 5