Thursday, May 20, 2021

Book Review: Tears of Amber

I am behind in life right now because I've been sick. First it was allergies and then it was the cold Jackson had this weekend. A cold for you and everyone else is just a cold. A cold for me is like standing on Death's door asking if it's my time to come in. I felt like I was really going to die yesterday and I only vaguely remember coming upstairs to pee, but even that is kind of assumption because my bed isn't wet, so I assume I came upstairs. I feel only mildly better today so I'm trying to get what I can done while I'm lucid. I need to be better for this weekend because we have games and recitals, so back to bed it is for me this afternoon.  

I do want to tell you about this book though because it has stuck with me long after finishing it and frankly, those are the best books. 

Tears of Amber - Sofia Segovia

From the bestselling author of The Murmur of Bees comes a transportive novel of two families uprooted by war and united by the bonds of love and courage.

With war looming dangerously close, Ilse’s school days soon turn to lessons of survival. In the harshness of winter, her family must join the largest exodus in human history to survive. As battle lines are drawn and East Prussia’s borders vanish beneath them, they leave their farm and all they know behind for an uncertain future.

But Ilse also has Janusz, her family’s young Polish laborer, by her side. As they flee from the Soviet army, his enchanting folktales keep her mind off the cold, the hunger, and the horrors unfolding around them. He tells her of a besieged kingdom in the Baltic Sea from which spill the amber tears of a heartbroken queen.

Neither of them realizes his stories will prove crucial and prophetic.

Not far away, trying and failing to flee from a vengeful army, Arno and his mother hide in the ruins of a K√∂nigsberg mansion, hoping that once the war ends they can reunite their dispersed family. But their stay in the walled city proves untenable when they find themselves dodging bombs and scavenging in the rubble. Soon they’ll become pawns caught between two powerful enemies, on a journey with an unknown destination.

Hope carries these children caught in the crosshairs of war on an extraordinary pilgrimage in which the gift of an amber teardrop is at once a valuable form of currency and a symbol of resilience, one that draws them together against insurmountable odds.
First things first, this is a translated book, and I know some of you see that and think, "ugh... there's going to be some 'missed in translation' stuff in here" and I'm telling you I didn't experience any of that. What I did experience was a book that is absolutely beautifully written. It was so much and everything all at once. You know I'm not one to read a whole ton of literary fiction and that's insanity because the ones I do read are always so wonderfully done, like this one. The character development? On point. 

When I see news reports about other countries in war, being terrorized with bombs and fighting, one of the first things I think is that I can't imagine that. Our country experiences one set of buildings going down and our entire country is mesmerized- what would it be like for this to be so common place that you don't even stop to watch the news? For it to not even be news anymore, instead just every day life? That's something I kept thinking about while I read this, and to be honest, there were several chunks that I went back to re-read because it hit differently once I got to the end and knew how things ended up. 

What would it be like to have invaders come into your home and force you out, with nothing, and there wasn't anything you could do about it? They were claiming your house and land and that was that? All of safe-holds you had in place to hopefully prevent that were useless? It makes me think of the pro-gun people in America, who think that their stockpiles would hold out an army determined to take them and their land? I mean, if the army wants it, they will take it, and take it they will. I will tell you that there are some seriously harrowing things throughout this book and it will take an emotional toll on you but it was so beautifully written you can't stop. 

You know what it reminded me of? That movie Schindler's List, kind of. Every character has an ending and the book mentions that "every story has an ending" and ugh. Gut punch. 

Even more? It's based on true events. 

I won't even lie and tell you I didn't cry because I absolutely did. I went into this not remembering that it was based on true events, and then I saw that in my notes and you guys- I was a wreck. It just hits you different. There are a million WWII based books out there, especially the last two years or so, and they are all variations of the same thing. I promise you, this is different. This one is really special and I am so grateful I was able to read this one. It is going to be with me for a long, long time. 

Thank you to the author, but also Amazon Crossing and FSB Associates for having me on this review tour. If you are looking for some historical fiction about WWII in an alternate point of view, I so highly recommend this one. I do believe this will be in my top 10 for the year. 
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Why Girls Are Weird said...

I definitely need to check this book out, thanks Sara!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

First off, I hope you feel better soon and have a good weekend!!

Now, this sounds so so good. Books based on true events really do hit you harder. And I get what you mean about hearing about other countries and wondering what that would be like. It's so horrible and heartbreaking. But this book sounds fantastic.


mypixieblog said...

Ugh I’m so so sorry to hear you have been feeling under the weather and hope you are feeling better in time for this weekend’s activities. No sleep for the weary—it’s so unfair!

I’d love to read this. I keep thinking about the conflict in Israel and it’s haunting me. Thank you for this review. I will definitely add this to me list because I don’t read enough historical novels and I really should!