"The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah
Wow, this book was exceptional. It's been a while since I've read a book I couldn't put down but this was it. It is a large book, over 400 pages, but well worth the time. I am now going to get my hands on every book this author has written. This book takes place in France during the Nazi invasion. It is a story of two women "fighting" the war the only way they know how. It is about the everyday unsung heroines of World War I. This book is historical fiction and keeps close to the facts of the war. It follows two sisters, one whose husband is off to fight the war, and one who is young and fearless. The sisters whose husband is gone to war is left with her daughter to raise alone as the Germans come in to her town and into her home. The young fearless sister can not wait for war to find her, she must do something to help. Both sisters show courage and bravery in unfathomable hardship. It is inspiring, terribly sad and yet full of hope. It leaves the reader wondering if they too have the courage to be ordinarily extraordinary. "What was love when put up against war?" "Vianne hated what she saw in her daughter's eyes right now. There was nothing young in her gaze-no innocence, no naivete, no hope. Not even grief. Just anger." The children did not have the luxury to be children during war. Such harsh things they were experiencing at so young. "She knew now that no one could be neutral-not anymore-and as afraid as she was of risking Sophie's life, she was suddenly more afraid of letting her daughter grow up in a world where good people did nothing to stop evil, where a good woman could turn her back on a friend in need." I may not live in war time but I too am afraid of my girls growing up in a world where good people do nothing. I am trying to teach them that when we see someone in need, no matter how big or small, we can choose to do something. I want them to see me choosing to do something about the things that break my heart so they will learn that they are capable of helping, always. "But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us." This, this is what we need to remember. Love does win, it always has and it always will. "You know what I learned in the camps? They couldn't touch my heart. They couldn't change who I was inside. My body...they broke that in the first days, but not my heart...". So powerful. And I think that that is how some people survived the camps, because they didn't allow their hearts to be hardened by the evil around them. "Men tell stories. Women get on with it. For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books. We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over." The women that were left behind fought the war in many ways. They did what they had to do to survive and when it was over, they went on as best as they knew how. I highly recommend this book. It is well worth reading.