Elsie Schmidt is 16 years old and the youngest daughter of a baker in Garmisch Germany. The year is 1944 and the Third Reich and Hitler rule Germany. While war is everywhere Elsie and her family are kept safe by an older well connected soldier who has feelings for Elsie. Her older sister,Hazel, was engaged to another soldier and has a son from that relationship. She now lives and has children in the Lebensborn program, imagine a sanctioned place for sex to create a perfect Aryan nation, she has also had twins.
One Christmas Eve changes everything for Elsie. She went to the first adult party and dance of her life, and while she should have been enjoying her new dress and date, the evening was marred by the actions of a brutal Nazi officer. Elsie returned home very shaken up that night, an engagement ring on her finger, and she discovered a shocking surprise behind her home……….
In El Paso TX Reba Adams is a journalist searching a unique twist on a Christmas feature she’s writing. The year is 2007. Her search for traditions around the world lead her to Elsie’s German Bakery. Reba feels her own life is upside down. She’s engaged to Riki, a border patrol officer, she’s running from her own family past, and she’s certain El Paso is not where she wants to settle. Reba finds much more than her story when she meets Elsie and her daughter Jane.
This book is really the story of Elsie and Reba, two young women, separated by 63 years, but facing similar life altering choices in their lives. I fell in love with Elsie immediately, her heart so pure, so honest and always thinking of her family and how each move she makes will impact them. She grows up so quickly, because of the war, because of her situation, and her childhood is over. She adores her parents, and she keeps their traditions and the art of baking close to her.
Loving Reba was only a little harder. Her young life wasn’t easy, and she didn’t have that strong family support system to lift her up. I think I wanted her to question her life with Riki less, but of course Sarah McCoy knows how to weave this story, and I should never have doubted her.
Trying to give a synopsis of this book is not easy, and yet I want to put it into my own words. Simply put this book is beautiful and heart breaking. The back and forth in the story is done so very well. I was excited to read each story, anxious to see how they would progress, and eventually intertwine. The historical research is accurate and so strikingly frightening.
I “met” Sarah McCoy on twitter, chatting with other authors. I instantly wanted to get to know her better. I purchased her first book, The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico, and loved it. We continued to chat and our friendship has just grown. I must say this second novel far exceeded my expectations, I won’t soon forget these characters and their story.
I’ve given this book 4.5 out of 5 stars, and if you love history, love stories, or a story of love over hate, this book will stir in your heart for a long time. Today is the launch day for this book, and it’s available everywhere, and in ebook too. Please visit Sarah McCoy’s website, you can also find her on facebook and on twitter at @SarahMMcCoy
I was able to read an ARC e-galley via Edelweiss, thank you so much Crown for this opportunity.