Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Book Review | THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS by Kristin Harmel

by Kristin Harmel
Publication: 06 Jul 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times). -Publisher

THE FOREST OF VANISHING STARS is a poignant and deeply moving story that explores the complexities of identity, family, and the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. At the heart of the novel is Yona, a young girl who is kidnapped from her wealthy Nazi parents by an elderly woman named Jerusza and raised in the forest. As Yona grows older, she becomes increasingly aware of her unique position as both an outsider and an insider to the world around her, and she grapples with questions of identity and belonging that will shape the course of her life.

One of the central themes of the book is the idea of choosing between one's moral compass and biological family. Yona's journey is marked by a series of difficult choices, as she must decide whether to prioritize the safety and well-being of the Jewish refugees she encounters in the forest or to seek out the truth about her past and her biological family. Along the way, Yona confronts the traumas of her childhood and comes to understand the power of human connection in the face of tragedy.

Harmel's writing is both lyrical and evocative, capturing the beauty and brutality of life in the forest with equal skill. Her characters are complex and fully realized, each with their own unique struggles and motivations. Throughout the novel, the reader is drawn into Yona's world, experiencing her triumphs and setbacks, her joys and sorrows.

Overall, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a stunning work of historical fiction that will linger in the reader's mind long after the final page has been turned. It is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a powerful reminder of the importance of choosing love and compassion over hate and fear.


About the Author:
Photograph by Phil Art Studio,
Reims, France
Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels including The Forest of Vanishing Stars, The Book of Lost Names, The Room on Rue Amélie, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is published in more than thirty languages and is the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends & Fiction. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

*Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada and Netgalley for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.


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