Author: Sarah McCoy
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical fiction
Description: In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.
Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.
Thoughts: I had heard good things about this book from various book podcasts, in particular Books on the Nightstand, and thought I would give it a chance. I had gotten the book earlier, but hadn't gotten around to reading it and after reading it, I don't know why I didn't read it the first time around. I really quite enjoyed the book, particularly the sections that involved Elsie back in Germany and also how the author used the traditional narrative but also managed to keep us in the past and the present. It was a book that I had a hard time putting down and couldn't stop thinking about it when I didn't have the book in my hands. The narrative was pretty strong and really seemed to connect things in the past with what was going on in the present era.
Bottom line: It was very strong book and can see why people have enjoyed this book. I am definitely looking forward to what Ms. McCoy has in store with her next novel and would recommend the book to those that enjoy a bit of time travel in their historical novels. Highly recommend.
Pages for 2013: 8716