The Warsaw Orphan [Book Review]

May 28, 2021

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer

The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Kimmer (cover) Image: two children walk along the railroad tracks away from the camera

Genre/Categories/Settings: Historical Fiction, WW11, Poland, Jewish, Survival

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Welcome to my stop on the Summer 2021 Historical Fiction Blog Tour. Thank you for the invitation, Justine. Thanks #NetGalley @Harlequin @GraydonHouse for a complimentary eARC of #TheWarsawOrphan by Kelly Rimmer upon my request. All opinions are my own. Pub Date: 6/1/2021.

Harlequin Historical Fiction 2021 Blog Tour Banner (showing the covers of three books)

It’s 1942, and teenage Elzbieta lives in the middle of German-occupied Warsaw. She doesn’t like the Germans who patrol the streets, she resents the curfews, and she’s mostly uninformed about the hardships endured by her Jewish neighbors. On the other hand, she has heard about German brutality and is keeping a secret about her own true identity. Elzbieta makes two friends: her neighbor Sara who involves her in a dangerous world of smuggling children out of the Ghetto and Roman whose family lives in the Ghetto and is in great danger. This is a story of war, family, survival, and love.

My Thoughts:

Memorable Characters to Cheer for: Roman is a Jewish teenager and lives in the Ghetto. He’s angry, bitter, and extremely loyal to family. In fact, he feels responsible for feeding the family and also feels responsible for the baby and his little brother. Elzbieta/Emilia has false papers and lives with her adopted parents. She tragically lost her first family (father and brother were killed and her mother died in childbirth). Elzbieta questions God in all the tragedy she sees but she still prays. She feels a calling (from God) to help the Jewish people and bravely works with a nurse whose mission is to rescue children from the ghetto and place them with Catholic families.

Thought-provoking Themes: One thoughtful theme involves the choices between revenge and prayer. One character favors revenge and another is devoted to prayer. Another theme explores affecting change through war or change through politics. Other themes include compassion, sacrifice, friendship, bravery, risk-taking, hardship, suffering, devotion to family, a sense of calling, the most difficult choices, hope, and survival.

War and Suffering: (***may contain spoilers***) The Warsaw Orphan is an incredibly sad story and I really felt the evil and despair. Trigger warnings abound for war atrocities, suffering, desperation, violence, and starvation. There is also one graphically-described sexual assault. I could not read for long periods at a time and took some breaks. However, in typical Kelly Rimmer style, the writing is filled with vivid details and the ending is hopeful. I love that this story is inspired by a real life hero who saved many children from the Ghetto.

Recommended: Although The Warsaw Orphan is heart wrenching, emotional, and tragic, I’m wholeheartedly recommending this well-written and page-turning story for fans of WW11 historical fiction, for those who appreciate books inspired by real-life heroes, and for book clubs.

My Rating: 5 Stars


The Warsaw Orphan by Kelly Rimmer (cover) Image: a girl and a boy walk down a set of railroad tracks away from the camera

The Warsaw Orphan Information Here

Meet the Author, Kelly Rimmer

Author Kelly RimmerKelly Rimmer is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and internationally best selling author of contemporary and historical fiction novels including The Secret Daughter, The Things We Cannot Say, and Truths I Never Told You. Her next novel, The Warsaw Orphan, will be released in 2021. Kelly lives in rural Australia with her family and a whole menagerie of badly behaved animals.

For further information about Kelly’s books, and to subscribe to her mailing list, visit


Is The Warsaw Orphan on your TBR or have you read it?

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

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  2. Excellent review Carol. I agree with all your thoughts, it was difficult to read, but I also highly recommend this one.

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