Monday, June 3, 2024

Mario Escobar: The Forgotten Names

By Kelly Bridgewater

In August 1942, French parents were faced with a horrible choice: watch their children die, or abandon them forever. Fifty years later, it becomes one woman’s mission to match the abandoned names with the people they belong to.

Five years after the highly publicized trial of Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” law student Valérie Portheret began her doctoral research into the 108 children who disappeared from Vénissieux fifty years earlier, children who somehow managed to escape deportation and certain death in the German concentration camps. She soon discovers that their rescue was no unexplainable miracle. It was the result of a coordinated effort by clergy, civilians, the French Resistance, and members of other humanitarian organizations who risked their lives as part of a committee dedicated to saving those most vulnerable innocents.

Theirs was a heroic act without precedent in Nazi-occupied Europe, made possible due to a loophole in the Nazi agenda to deport all Jewish immigrants from the country: a legally recognized exemption for unaccompanied minors. Therefore, to save their children, the Jewish mothers of Vénissieux were asked to make the ultimate sacrifice of abandoning them forever.

Told in dual timelines, The Forgotten Names is a reimagined account of the true stories of the French men and women who have since been named Righteous Among the Nations, the children they rescued, the stifled cries of shattered mothers, and a law student, whose twenty-five-year journey allowed those children to reclaim their heritage and remember their forgotten names.


My Thoughts:

The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar is an appalling, yet redemptive story about children during World War II. I have read tons of books on World War II, and every story appears to be a little different. Showing the good and horrors of humanity. As the story is written, there are a number of viewpoints from a good chunk of the rescuers to the children to a priest to a Nazi solder. For a while, it was hard to follow the story. But then I didn’t worry about whose point of view the section was in, I just focused on the time period. Made it so much easier to follow the plot. Again, as someone who reads about these dreadful events, I would hope that if I was put in the same situation that I would stand up for the Jewish people no matter the cost. Escobar does a wonderful job at creating empathy for the characters as he shares their plight with the Nazi’s. Even though the creation of the characters are not really that three-dimensional by learning their backgrounds or what makes them tick, readers can still feel horrified with the terrors that does occur to another human by the hand of another who believes he is superior. There are a number of cuss words. A couple of scenes that allude to horrible situations, so be careful when allowing less mature younger children to read this novel. Overall, The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar brings to light the saving grace of 108 children who were saved from having to go to the concentration camps even though they had to take on new identities. A wonderful story to read.

I received a complimentary copy of The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar from Harper Muse Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Forgotten Names 

No comments:

Post a Comment