I'm still recovering from Cathy Gohlke's latest release, Saving Amelie. I mean this in the best possible way. I'm recovering from the tense, fast-paced plot, the living, breathing characters I came to care deeply about and didn't want to say goodbye to, and the painful truth of history weaving through the story that grabs the reader by the throat and demands we remember.
In fact, I wasn't sure how to put words on the screen to accurately share my thoughts and emotion about this powerful story based in Nazi Germany during Hitler's reign. The story left me breathless, my heart heavy with respect for those who gave so much for others during WWII. Saving Amelie brings to light the ugliness of the science of eugenics, but then overshadows it with the "costly grace" of putting others above oneself.
I settled into turbulent Nazi Germany with Rachel Kramer in 1939 as she follows her father, a well-known eugenics scientist who might have more to do with the Nazis' plans for Aryan dominance than Rachel realized. And I was twisted into the tight plot as American journalist Jason Young digs deeper into rumors of handicapped children disappearing - all because the SS deems them unworthy of life.
Rachel's childhood friend Kristine - married to an SS officer who views their deaf daughter, Amelie, as an unwelcome mistake - asks Rachel to take care of the child. With Jason's help, Rachel works to keep the little girl safe while trying to understand why her father brought her to Germany and exactly who she is.
The author's meticulous research and careful weaving of intricate details and important characters from Oberammergau's Passion Play framed the book's second half, creating a beautiful, stark landscape in which hiding is necessary for survival and family and friends walk a fine line with fear of discovery.
Saving Amelie is an historical love letter to those crushed and lost under Hitler's hate-filled reign, including a beloved Christian pastor who spoke out for the oppressed until he was silenced, and whose words and legacy live on today because He lived for Christ.
A particularly powerful, poignant scene near the end of the book, with a young boy named Heinrich Helphman, will long stay with me. I've reread it a few times, the childlike potency of his words the catalyst for tears each time.
There is much more I could say about the story, but the best I can offer is, "Read it. You will be better for it."
I've enjoyed all of Cathy Gohlke's books. My particular favorite was Promise Me This up to this point, but Saving Amelie, with its sheer scope of emotion and truth, gains that spot. It's a book not to be missed, and I can't recommend it highly enough
This is an awesome book. A definite "must read". It takes us to a time in our history that we wouldn't want to repeat, and if we are not careful, it will be repeated. I asked myself what I would have done in Lea's place. Risking my life, or the lives of my family, would I have hidden Jewish people or those who were considered undesirable. As christians we must take a stand and let our voices be heard, or we will lose our liberties. This book has made me think, which is a good thing.
Saving Amelie is an awesome book! It keeps you captivated to continue reading despite how horrible the circumstances are. The background is Nazi Germany when they were in the midst of developing their perfect race through reseaching eugenics. I have not read anything by this author previously but can not wait to see what else she writes. I like her style and creativity.
I received this book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
Its September 1939, and Rachel Kramer has travelled with her father from her New York home to undergo her regular examination at the Institute, while her father attends an international conference on eugenics. She meets Jason Young at a ball while trying to escape from an overbearing suitor, and realises Young is the journalist who is trying to discredit her fathers research. However, an unusual request from a childhood friend leaves her with no one to rely on except the annoying journalist
The start was a bit slow, as it was necessary to introduce several different characters, each a different thread to the story. This made the early chapters complex, but the pace improved quickly once all the essential elements of the story had been introducedelements which were chilling, yet added a layer of realism to the plot.
Rachel was annoying with her nave views, especially at first, but it was good to see her gradually change as she considered and rejected her long-held beliefs about her family and herself. The eugenics subplot was chilling, especially as I saw how Rachel had been raised to believe she was better than othersand it made me wonder how many people still believe this, and dont recognise how the idea distorts biblical truth.
Jason was a strong hero, despite his inability to show the truth of the Nazi regime to those who needed to know in the US. It was good to see a man who wasnt afraid to admit he needed to change, and to pursue truth despite the cost. The minor characters were also well-written, and fulfil a necessary part of this fast-paced historical thriller (with a touch of romance).
The thing I liked best about Saving Amelie was the depth of research that has gone into the writing, and the accuracy. Ive read other books written by American authors and set in Germany during World War Two which downplay the Nazi oppression of the weak or those not deemed Aryan enough, and seem to look at Hitlers Germany through rose-coloured glasses.
Saving Amelie is not like that. It shows the oppression in chilling detail, right from the early days of the war in September 1939. It shows the price paid by those who didnt support the ideals of the Third Reicha group which included many Christians. And it shows the activities of the German resistance, a needed reminder that not all Germans were complicit in the crimes committed by Hitler and his followers.
But, perhaps most importantly, Saving Amelie shows that there are still lessons to be learned from the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War Two. There is no master race. There is no such thing as levels of evolution within the human racewe are all equal in the sight of God. And grace is isnt the nice all-is-forgiven idea weve come to believe in the Western church. Grace is costly:
Weve come to practice cheap gracegrace that appears as a godly form but costs us nothingand that is an abomination it took the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, to achieve that grace. It requires just as much from each of us.
Thanks to Tyndale and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.