Wednesday, October 21, 2015

REVIEW: Even in Darkness by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Even in Darkness
by Barbara Stark-Nemon

Publisher: She Writes Press
Page Count: 317
Release Date: April 2015
Format: Trade Paperback

How got: personal library; via BookMooch

First attention getter: a personal story of the Holocaust


From GoodReads:
Spanning one century and three continents, Even in Darkness tells the story of Kläre Kohler, whose early years as beloved daughter of a prosperous German-Jewish family hardly anticipate the often harrowing life she faces as an adult—a long saga of family, lovers, two world wars, concentration camps, and sacrifice. As the world changes around her, Kläre is forced to make a number of seemingly impossible choices in order to protect the people she loves—and to save herself.

Based on a true story, Even in Darkness highlights the intimate experience of Kläre’s reinvention as she faces the destruction of life as she knew it, and traces her path beyond survival to wisdom, meaning, and—most unexpectedly—love.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

I liked how intimate this book was. I don’t know if it was the writing style or just the circumstances of seeing the developing horror of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany through one family and individual. Yet, I felt immediately drawn to Klare and her survival story. I wanted to know how she fared almost from page one. I think some of it can be attributed to how the author presents the story and its emotions; it’s very immediate and engrossing.

Having the story cover decades, from the 1910’s all the way through to the latter half of the 20th century, gives the reader a real picture of the story of Nazism and how it reverberated for years. Seeing the beginning in WWI all the way through to the devastation of Europe post-WWII made this history buff happy. Seeing how all those events impacted one family was very interesting.

All the characters being based off the author’s real family was an interesting idea. It made everyone more real to me, knowing that most of the events portrayed actually happened. Once Klare and family got into the camp system, this became even more immediate and jarring, especially Klare’s experiences.

I loved the relationships in the book and the exploration of love in all its many forms. Husband/wife, between lovers, friendships, mother/daughter, siblings, and random people coming together to create a family. So many different links kept things fresh and interesting. I especially enjoyed Klare’s and Ansel’s relationship. They only had the barest connections but had such a soul deep relationship. Such a deep love that developed between two people sucked me in. It can’t really be defined by any descriptor that exists; it’s just Klare and Ansel.

My only hitch with the book was Klare’s overall characterization. There were times where she came off as far too perfect. She’s the perfect angel: taking care of everyone before herself, completely understanding, loyal to a fault, having a wellspring of strength so deep that nothing can shake it. I really wanted her to have more warts and faults than she did.

This book is a great examination of the start and rise of Nazi Germany, it’s powerful rule, and the backlash after it fell. It examined all of this through the intimate window of Klare and her family. The author does a great job in making everything come to life, both in the story and emotionally through the relationships. While sometimes characters come across as too perfect, that still doesn’t decrease my enjoyment. I’d recommend this book to lovers of the WWII genre; it will be one to savor.

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