The Woman with the Blue Star

Book Review

The Woman with the Blue Star

By Pam Jenoff

Historical fiction about World War 2, strong female characters, and tragic circumstances were all indicators that I should have loved this book, but The Woman with the Blue Star just didn’t meet the “love” mark for me. I am happy to have read it, yet something just didn’t connect for me.

Sadie and her parents have been interned at a Jewish ghetto in Poland. Their lives are fraught with daily fears of being taken by the Nazis to another most unimaginably horrific location: Auschwitz. When that night comes, they escape into the sewers of Krakow and begin a fight to survive in their new underground hiding spot.

Ella is lives a bland existence with her stepmother in Krakow. She mourns the absences of her missing father, her brother who has escaped to Paris, and her boyfriend, Krys, who broke off their relationship before he went to fight for the Polish army. Her stepmother has started entertaining German SS officers, and Ella’s world is getting even smaller.

One day, Ella sees Sadie looking through the sewer gate, and both young women form a careful friendship that pushes them to face the boundaries of war-torn Poland and their own fears of how tenuous life has become.

I liked the plot of this book and the friendship between Sadie and Ella. But something about the writing didn’t make me love it. It’s solidly written, but with a lot of “telling” more than “showing” and a bit removed for my tastes.

What is most important to you when reading a book? Plot development, character development, or writing style?

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