Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kristy Cambron: A Sparrow in Terezin

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor's story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she's stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she’s planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

My Review:

Becoming a World War II historical fiction obsessed fan lately, I was drawn to Kristy Cambron’s first novel, The Butterfly and the Violin. It was an enjoyable read and quick to devour. I couldn’t wait to jump right in and lose myself in the flow of Cambron’s writing. My expectations were truly met.

From the first moment at Serene and William’s wedding, the story takes off with a number of surprises and keeps piling higher as the story unfolds. The dueling plots, which flowed seamlessly in The Butterfly and the Violin, return in A Sparrow in Terezin. Moving from present day to the 1940’s is an easy transition with no jarring jumps from period to period. I have only one issue with the pacing of the story, and it is how long it took to introduce the connection between the two time periods. In The Butterfly and the Violin, the two timeline’s association is shown in the first chapter, whereas, in A Sparrow in Terezin, readers did not know the link until about forty percent through the book. Not that it ruined the story, but it would have been nice to know why the story of Kaja is important to Serena near the beginning. Cambron’s love of World War II and art history associated with the children’s art in Terezin bled from every page, making the original and unpredictable story world come to life for me.

Serena and William, who are the main characters in the present day timeline from The Butterfly and the Violin, returns with more mystery to the story they began in the first book. Serena still tries to figure out how to fit into the Hanover family while William finally learns a valuable lesson in forgiveness. I enjoy returning to familiar characters who I have loved from the first book. On the other hand, the 1940’s timeline iss populated with Kaja and Liam, new characters who work in a newspaper office where their love sparks and blossoms. Their romance made me sigh and smile. I truly love how Cambron makes a pair of historical characters who tug at my heart. I hope Cambron brings their story back to life in another book.

The conflict in the 1940’s timeline reminds me of why I have fallen in love with the genre. I learn more about what went on during World War II without being preached out and bored to tears like a history lesson taught in a monotone voice at school. As I watch the tension with the guards interacting with the children, my heart aches for the harm to these innocent children.

Cambron shows why she’ll be around for a while with her command of the English language. Her prose strengthens the internal monologue and dialogue of each individual character. I felt like a reporter behind the camera, watching the horror from the characters’ eyes and listening in on their personal train of thoughts.

Fans of Sarah Sundin, Kate Breslin, Cara Putnam, or Liz Tolsma will not be disappointed by this story. Just as a warning, there is a moment of a man being beaten on a line, so if younger readers are enjoying the story, adults might have to answer why this happens. However, it shows the reality of this horrible time in human history, and I believe it is necessary to strengthen the story.

Overall, Kristy Cambron’s A Sparrow in Terezin is an engaging tale, showing the horrors of Terezin under the Nazi rule while creating gripping characters that stays with the readers long after the story comes to a satisfying ending.

I receive a complimentary copy of A Sparrow in Terezin from Thomas Nelson through Net galley and all my opinions are my own. 

This review first appeared on The Christian Manifesto on April 3, 2015.

Kristy Cambron
From Kristy Cambron's Amazon Author Page
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