5 Stars Out Of 5
Must-Read Historical That Touches the Heart
October 26, 2014
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