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July 7, 2021

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts


"Jerusza had known, from the moment she first saw the light over Berlin, that the child was to be called Yona which meant 'dove' in Hebrew.  She had known it even before she saw the girl's birthmark which hadn't faded with time but had grown stronger, darker, a sign that this child was special, that she was fated for something great." (p 6)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars
July 2021; Gallery Books; 978-1982158934
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); historical fiction
With her last several books, Kristin Harmel has become one of the top authors of WWII historical fiction.  She always writes well-researched books with strong and resilient women and leaves her readers with stories that they won't forget.  She has become one of the few authors that I buy her books without knowing anything about them because I know that I'll be getting a fantastic book.

In 1922, Jerusza, a wizened old lady, steals two-year-old Yona from the home of her wealthy German parents.  She raises Yona deep in the woods of eastern Europe.  She brings Yona up to understand nature and to protect herself from the outside world.  When Jerusza dies in 1941, Yona has never been to a village or talked to anyone.  Her 'aloneness is gone when she decides to help a Jewish family who are in the woods to try to escape from the Nazi soldiers.  They tell her what is going on in the world and about the persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazis.  She vows to herself to keep the group safe and teach them all that she knows about life in the forest and how to avoid capture and certain death.  In turn, Yona learns a lot, too - she learns what it's like to be part of a family and learns to love and care about other people.

The part of the book when Yona is in the woods with this group is suspenseful.  There is infighting within the group even as they all struggle to stay hidden from their enemies.  There is a problem finding food for all of the group and occasional trips to a village are filled with danger.  This is a terrific book about love and family and working together to take care of each other.

Be sure to read the author's notes at the end of the book to learn more about her research and the real people that inspired this story.  

This is another powerful, beautifully written novel that you don't want to miss.  It's an emotional look at the resilience of people when they are in danger and the redemption in helping other people.  This is a book that I won't soon forget.



Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter



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