May 4, 2021
The Woman With the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, WW11, Holocaust, Jewish, Krakow (Poland), Friendship
*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Welcome to my stop on the Pam Jenoff Blog Tour for #TheWomanWithTheBlueStar. Thanks to #NetGalley @HarlequinBooks @HarperCollins @ParkRowBooks for my complimentary eARC upon my request. All opinions are my own.
In 1942, eighteen-year-old Sadie and her parents are forced to flee the Krakow Ghetto to avoid being sent to a concentration camp. They seek refuge in the sewer system beneath the city. One day, Sadie looks up through the grate and makes eye contact with a young Polish woman, Ella. Putting her fears aside, Ella begins to aid Sadie by bringing her a bit of food. The story follows their friendship as Ella helps Sadie in any way that she can.
Heartbreaking: Overall, I found The Woman With the Blue Star an especially heartbreaking and tragic story of the will to survive. It’s almost beyond comprehension to know that this story is inspired by people who actually used the sewers as a desperate and last-resort means of escape and refuge.
Structure: Jenoff introduces and concludes the story in a present timeline, but the story itself is told in a past timeline. Once we are in the past, we stay there (no hopping back and forth between timelines). I know many of us appreciate a chronological timeline!
Writing: I love that I can depend upon Jenoff for a well-told, well-written, memorable, and engaging story. It was unputdownable as I feared for Sadie’s and Ella’s wellbeing and safety throughout. Vivid details and descriptions bring me right into the flight for safety, the atrocious conditions in the sewer, and the details help me appreciate the danger involved with helping others. The story has a somewhat satisfying (and realistic) ending, but I can’t say more because of spoilers.
Themes: I love the strong themes of friendship, sacrifice, hope, loyalty, adversity, kindness, endurance, and survival.
Recommended: I’m recommending The Woman With the Blue Star for fans of WW11 historical fiction and for those who love stories about inspirational, brave women. Books clubs whose members are OK with some tragedy might appreciate this survival story.
Content Consideration: war atrocities, starvation, death, grief
My Rating: 4 Stars
The Woman With the Blue Star Information Here
Meet the Author, Pam Jenoff
Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including her most recent, The Lost Girls of Paris and The Orphan’s Tale, both instant New York Times bestsellers, and The Kommandant’s Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing attorney at a large firm and in-house. She received her juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, her masters degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelors degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school at Rutgers.
Is The Woman With the Blue Star on your TBR or have you read it?
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Glad you enjoyed this Carol!
It’s a sad one though.
I think it would be too sad for me at the moment!
I’m reading an absolutely delightful and light hearted ARC right now…The Invisible Husband of Frick Island…..so happy I gave this one a chance!
It is so crushing what others have had to endure and I believe although it’s hard to read about it is important that we do
So important to hear the stories!
Some tragedy is good in a book!
The circumstances really hit me hard in this one!
Wonderful review Carol. Sounds like tissues are mandatory for this one. ❤📚
Thanks Sandy! This one hit me hard!
I’m glad you liked it but… no, I’m not going to read this one. Many years ago, I knew someone who was actually in that ghetto, and there are several elements of the premise here that do not align with what he told me about what it was like living in it, and what happened when they emptied it out (his own story would have made an unbelievable novel). Also, I wasn’t overly impressed with her previous book “The Lost Girls of Paris,” and I’m getting bored with dual timelines, to be honest. I’ll give this one a pass, but a lovely review all the same.
Having first hand knowledge makes it impossible to read a fictionalized account.
Actually, I disagree. If the research is done correctly then it can be a real pleasure. Take “The Last Train to London” for example. Meg’s research about the Kindertransport was impeccable, and I personally knew three people who were on it, plus we recently learned that my husband’s cousin’s father was also on the first train. Trust me, I read that book very closely, especially because I know Meg isn’t Jewish. But the one, tiny mistake I thought I’d found ended up being totally accurate and she was right, I was wrong!
Wow! That’s amazing! I wonder what methods she used to make her research so accurate and why other researchers can easily veer off track? Or maybe the research is ok and it’s in the writing (creative process) that errors are made. I wonder if writers use fact checkers?
Good historical fiction writers do LOTS of research and often also have fact checkers. Yes, some authors take “poetic license” with some facts from time to time (like moving an event to a different date, for example, or inventing an event that never happened) but some things are – for me, at least – sacred.
I’m torn on this one! My married name is Polish (fairly distant) so I’m intrigued but I haven’t seen the best reviews. You’re making me want to read it!
You could try it and see how it goes.
Great review Carol. I also liked that she only bookended the story in the present, but the story was told in the past without the jumping back and forth. It was so much easier to get immersed in the story.
I agree it’s a nice brain break to read a straightforward story!
I think realistic or heartbreaking endings stick with me for a really long time. I don’t come across books with endings like that very often.
These endings are memorable!
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