Friday, August 2, 2013

My Enemy's Cradle

My Enemy's Cradle
by Sara Young

Genre: Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Cyrla's neighbros have begun to whisper.  Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies.  But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and the Nazis confiscate fatherless children.  A note is left under the mat.  The neighbors know that Cyrla, sent from Poland for safekeeping with her Dutch relatives, is Jewish.  The Nazis are imposing more and more restrictions; she won't be safe there for long.

And then in the space of an afternoon, life falls apart.  Cyrla must choose between certain discovery in her cousin's home and taking Anneke's place in the Lebensborn-Cyrla and Anneke are nearly identical.  If she takes refuge in the enemy's lair, can Cyrla fool the doctors, nurses, guards, and other mothers-to-be?  Can she escape before they discover she is not who she claims?

Mining a lost piece of history, Sara Young takes us deep into the lives of women living in the worst of times.  Part love story and part elegy for the terrible choices we must often make to survive, My Enemy's Cradle keens for what we lose in war and sings for the hope we sometimes find.
From the book jacket

Becky's Review: This World War II historical fiction tells the story of a little known piece of the German's plan to dominate.  The Germans founded a program called the Lebensborn where women could go and "donate" babies (but only ones with good lineage-Aryan blood) to Germany.  According to the Nazis it was the German women's duty to have many children for the Reich no matter if their were married or not.   Women who weren't German but were carrying German soldier's babies and had good bloodlines could also come to this home.  Once they delivered their baby was taken away and adopted by a German family or adopted by the father.  The women were treated well at the homes and had plenty of food to eat.  The author tells us in the afterward that after the war these babies were often forgotten about due to the stigma of their birth.  There were no records kept (or if there were, they were destroyed) so after the war, mothers could not find their children.  What a sad part of history.

Now onto what I thought about the story.  To be honest, the beginning was quite slow and in my opinion not well written. I felt like I was constantly out of the know.  The characters would all of a sudden know something based on the look in someone's eye but I didn't know what was going on and I was supposed to be making inferences based on not enough information!  But once I got past the first 60 pages, at which point life falls apart (as mentioned in the synopsis) the book picked up and was better written.  Without giving away too much information (because the synopsis really hints at a lot without telling you anything) the book follows Cyrla after she makes her decision to either flee or take Anneke's place.

I was quite intrigued by the story and the girls that Cyrla met.  I did find Cyrla to be quite naive.  I don't think she understood the gravity of the war and her being Jewish.  When she was told (before life fell apart) that she could be given papers to flee the Netherlands, she didn't think it was necessary and she continued to think it wasn't necessary.   I think at some point she figured out just how dangerous the Nazis were but it took her a while!  Other than the two things I mentioned I thought the book was very good and quite the love story which I did not expect.

Marcie's Review: The setting of the story - Nazi occupied Holland and a Lebensborn home in Munich - was unique, and intriguing enough that I kept reading longer than I otherwise would have.  I wanted to love this book, but the naivete of Cyrla's character, as well as the lack of emotion expressed by the main characters were too unrealistic to be believable.  (For example, why did the main characters love each other?  Why did Cyrla make the decisions she made?)  The writing style also left something to be desired; the author was technically proficient, but didn't have a knack for making the characters seem like real people.  Still, the story was interesting and I couldn't help feeling sorry for the situations the characters found themselves in.

Becky's Rating: 4 stars

Marcie's Rating: 3 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment