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February 10, 2022

The Road We Took by Cathy A. Lewis ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I read a lot of WWII fiction. The past few years, I've really enjoyed stories that are more biographical fiction. I was excited about The Road We Took as it is, at least in part, based on diary entries from the author's father. He spent several weeks in Europe as a teenager in the summer of 1933. 

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

The Road We Took
February 2022; Indie; 978-1737026709
ebook, print (390 pages); historical fiction

There are three storylines that intertwine throughout the novel.

First, we have Buster who is a 17-year-old Boy Scout. Along with his father who is chaperoning the trip, they befriend a German teenager on their way to the Boy Scout Jamboree in Hungary. Wolfie joins them on the trip as he had been a Boy Scout but Hitler had disbanded all youth groups, allowing on the Hilter Youth organization. On their way to the German port where they will board a ship for home, the troop drops Wolfie at his home. Waiting for his return is not his father but the Gestapo. They ruthlessly beat him. The bus driver, not wanting to get involved with the Gestapo continues driving to the hotel. Buster is distraught about his friend.

Then there is Maddie and Stanislaw. Maddie is Stani's violin student. They attend a concert and at the end Hitler's Brownshirts have the exits blocked and demand to produce identification papers. Being only 17-years-old and from Poland, Maddie doesn't have any papers and the Brownshirts accuse her of being a communist. Stani tries to defend Maddie and chaos breaks out. This allows Maddie to run away. She runs to a hotel where she slips into an unlocked room.

And finally, there is Elenena. She is a French-Polish Jew who moved to Munich to pursue music. Her story actually begins in 1926 when she becomes a student of Stanislaw. Once she is has learned as much as she can, she becomes a violin teacher. One of her students was an orphan that her aunt and sister took in in Poland. She trains with Elenena who sees she is truly talented and has her audition with Stanislaw for further instruction.

With several of the main characters being teenagers, the book would be enjoyed by young adults as well as adults. There are some mature themes discussed in the book, but they aren't overly graphic and typical of what would be found in other young adult novels. 

I found the reading level to be a little low - at times it felt like I was reading a middle grades novel. The adults in the novel often felt like how adults are portrayed in middle grades and young adult novels. It kind of makes sense since the story is based on a teenager's diary and may be how he viewed the adults.

There is a lot going on in this book - may be too much is going on. At times I was like do we really need to have that issue brought into the plotline? It caused the plot to meander at times and I found the pacing maddening. I just wanted to get on with the story.

I did like the different perspective of the early years of Hitler's reign the story provided. The Road We Took is set in the heart of Germany. Often in the WWII books I read, they are set more on the outskirts of Germany, in Poland, Austria, etc. and it seems that people didn't really know of Hitler's plans. This book made it clear that the citizens knew what was happening and many fully agreed with his views on Jews. 

If you are like me and searching for fresh, unique perspectives in WWII fiction, then you need to get this book.

Buy The Road We Took at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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