ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristin Harmel has been working as a professional writer since she was sixteen. She has had a long magazine writing career that included articles published in Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Travel + Leisure, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and many more. The author was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show, The Daily Buzz. One of her assignments included flying to London three times to interview the cast of the Harry Potter films. She has also appeared on numerous local television morning shows such as Good Morning America. Harmel is the co-host and co-founder of Friends & Fiction, a weekly web show, and podcast. She has been working as a reporter for the People magazine since 2000.
The Book of Lost Names is a historical fiction set in the World-War era. It revolves around the twenty-three-year-old protagonist, French-born Jewish girl Eva Traub, who is pursuing her doctorate in English literature. The book depicts the escalating tension owing to Adolf Hitler’s insane hatred for Jews.
Eva’s parents resided in Poland before fleeing to Paris. They thought they were saving their daughter from a life of degradation and possible harm by moving to Paris. However, in 1942, the Nazis invaded Paris in the wake of World War II, and the family realized that they were not safe. To make matters worse, her father gets arrested by the Germans.
Her father’s arrest sets the story in motion and turns Eva’s life upside down as she is suddenly left to fend for herself. She also tries to constantly appease her mother, who thinks Eva is not doing her best to free her father. While trying to evade imminent death at the hands of the Nazis, Eva comes into contact with a group of forgers who provide fake identity documents to rescue as many Jews as possible. Eva, who had been running around like a headless chicken, suddenly finds a new purpose in life. Soon, she learns to forge near-perfect documents.
The book also offers a slow-brewing romance between Eva and Remy as they attempt to find a way of securing the original identities of people, especially kids who are too young to remember their given names. This leads them to create The Book of Names with a unique coding pattern decipherable to only the two of them. What follows is a tale of bravery. The forgers play hide-and-seek with the officials. Eva also suffers from the heartache of not being able to be with Remy, who, according to her mother, was off-limits for not being a Jew.
The book ends on a happily-ever-after note that we would rather not disclose for the sake of not spoiling the readers’ interest. However, the premise of The Book of Lost Names is quite engrossing. To her credit, the author has done thorough research in re-creating the WWII era.
WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES
The Book of Lost Names is loosely based on the actual forgers’ network that helped thousands of Jews save their lives by providing them with the documents needed to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Some of the tricks used by the actual forgers would definitely pique the interest of all the history buffs out there.
WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES
The book ends on a happy note – one that seems just too good to be true. Even so, the happy ending was not really a surprise for the readers, who can easily sense it coming a long way.
You can’t judge a person by their language or their place of origin – though it seems that each new generation insists upon learning that lesson for itself.
But we aren’t defined by the names we carry or the religion we practice or the nation whose flag flies over our heads. I know that now. We’re defined by who we are in our hearts, who we choose to be on this earth.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since the start of the war, it’s that as long as we believe, we take our faith with us, whatever we do, wherever we go, if our motives are pure.
The Book of Lost Names merits an average score of 3.5 stars out of 5. The historical fiction book has been sprinkled with all the necessary tropes. It can be a lighthearted read for people interested in the historical-fiction genre if they are willing to overlook the slightly dull ending.
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