Title- The Book of Lost Names
Author- Kristin Harmel
Genre- historical fiction with a few contemporary flashforward chapters
POV- 2005- first person, present tense & 1942- third person, past tense
Similar Books/Comps- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Steam level- (0- no sex, 5- erotica)
Cover– beautiful and captivating for a bookworm. It represented the genre well.
My emotions- totally engaged
Her mom is annoying but I understood her point too
Comments while reading–
This book was EVERYTHING a book should be. Also, I love stories of books within a book.
Page 88- I love that Mamusia’s character is so hesitant & balances out her daughter. The theme of forging papers is so interesting, a side of the war I hadn’t read about before in fiction.
It’s frustrating that the new people brought into Eva’s life aren’t introducing their conspirators to her in a trustworthy way, just for the sake of creating drama and suspense for the reader. It seems reckless that they aren’t communicating more effectively so she has every right to be flustered when someone new pops up. That part didn’t feel realistic with the stakes so high.
Page 100- did a potential romantic interest just get introduced? A little late in the game
A few chapters right in the middle were a little slow. It picked back up again around page 236
Page 372- I wasn’t super invested in her relationship with her son, Ben.
Page 377- AAAAAHHH! What an ending. I almost cried. Almost
After the ending: Did I fully believe Joseph’s info about what Manusia said? I’m not sure. What would I have done if I was in Eva’s shoes the day her father was taken away? Would I have hidden or fought back? Was there ever a “right” answer? Trust was such a big theme. So scary to think of the uncertainties of loyalties in friendships and alliances. Page 117 had an interesting question posed. Could soldiers turn off the evil switch and become a loving husband and father at the end of the work day. Can people become immune to atrocities? The characters had such different reactions to bad news in regards to their perseverance through the difficult times. I wonder if survivors had a higher percentage of specific personality traits. I can’t write spoilers but I WISH ___ happened instead!
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek library, it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?
As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small mountain town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.
An engaging and evocative novel reminiscent of The Lost Girls of Paris and The Alice Network, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love in the face of evil.
Best part- Last page
What I’d change- My only major critique was not liking the fast time jumps where a month passed in a single sentence.
“He erases me, just like I erased my own mother, by giving himself permission to see me as something I’m not. He looks at me and sees someone incapable of taking care of herself. But that’s not who I am.”
“Anyone who saw the magic in books has to be good.”
“I am exactly where I am meant to be.”
“Parents make all sorts of errors, because our ability to raise our children is always colored by the lives we’ve lived before they came along.”
“The path of life is darkest when we choose to walk it alone.”