Tag Archives: Holocaust

Review: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
By Robert Hillman
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780525535928, April 9, 2019, 304pp.

The Short of It:

I wasn’t quite sure which direction this story would take but when I turned that last page I was pretty satisfied.

The Rest of It:

Tom and Trudy live on a farm. Trudy, not once but twice leaves Tom for greener pastures. Tom, a kind, gentle man, doesn’t understand her need to flee but in the end accepts it. His only regret is not keeping Peter, the son she brought back with her after leaving him that first time. A son who wasn’t his to begin with.

Enter Hannah. She’s older than Tom but her eccentricities appeal to Tom in a way that surprises him. She’s lived in Budapest and is more worldly than anyone he’s known and plans to open a bookshop in his tiny town. She seems a little out there but when she needs help putting the shop together, Tom offers his services and the two fall in love.

It sounds like a very sweet story but then it gets more complicated. Long ago, Hannah survived the horrors of Auschwitz but her first husband, and her dear son Michael did not. Tom doesn’t really understand what she’s been through and although she mentions it here and there, the full horror of her past is not revealed in its entirety. This makes Hannah push back when things get really serious and leaves Tom thinking that he has yet another wife who wants nothing to do with him.

This novel took me by surprise. It felt pretty safe when I read those first few chapters. The only thing that stood out at the time was that there was a lot of sex! I even mentioned it to another blogger because it seemed like there was a lot of it but the characters had barely gotten to know one another. But then we learn of Hannah’s past and the horrors that she was forced to endure and everything began to fall into place.

Love is complicated, especially when there is a lot of baggage brought into the relationship. I enjoyed the quirkiness of Hannah, and Tom’s genuine love for her. There is some bookish talk, but not as much as the title would suggest. This story isn’t really about the bookshop at all so if that’s what you are expecting, you might be a little disappointed. However, I really enjoyed The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted. The characters seemed very real to me and I like that not everything was perfect. I’ve always enjoyed stories about lost souls who find each other and this book was no exception.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher and First to Read.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron

The Book of Aron
By Jim Shepard
Vintage, Paperback, 9781101872741, May 2016, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Based on true events, Shepard tells the story of a young boy and his family as they struggle to survive Germany’s occupation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Rest of It:

There are many books written about the Holocaust. Some are beautifully written and nearly all of them are pretty heavy in tone. This one is a little different. The story is told from a young boy’s point of view. A young boy who happens to be street smart and a bit of a wretch. Somehow, that makes the story he’s telling a little easier to digest.

Although not likable, Aron is a survivor and he comes in contact with many characters both young and old who directly impact him and his quality of life. Hunger, illness, lice outbreaks and the continued loss of personal property and loved ones, puts Aron on the street, and that is where he meets Dr. Janusz Korczak, a pediatrician , the true hero of this story.

As I said earlier, although fictionalized, the story is based on true events and when I turned that last page, I was eager to know more about Dr. Janusz Korczak (birthname Hersz Goldszmit). I think Shepard could have written the entire book about him.

All in all, The Book of Aron was a good book to discuss. The book club that I belong to had plenty to say about it. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning but it picked up about halfway through. I hesitate to say it but for a book with this subject matter, the tone felt lighter to me than most. It wasn’t particularly heavy until the end.

I’ve never read anything by Shepard before but now I am interested in reading his other book, Project X, about middle-school (another heavy topic),

Have you read The Book of Aron or Project X?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.