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Flu Review - The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel



                The Book of Lost Names begins with a librarian named Eva Traube Abrams. Eva is verging on retirement, reflecting on her life, and then she sees a newspaper article about a mystery book stolen by Nazi’s in WWII. The library holding the book is seeking the original owner in the hope that the book can be returned and that the owner can explain the secret code written inside. When Eva sees the picture of the book, she knows immediately that this is her book, the one she encoded during her time in the French resistance. She knows that she must do whatever she can to go to Germany and recover her lost work, even if that means revealing secrets to her family she has kept hidden for decades.

                While Eva makes her way to Germany, the story moves back to Eva’s past and how she joined the French resistance. Eva is a French citizen, but her parents are Polish Jews. When the Nazi’s occupied France, they rounded but the immigrant Jews first. Eva’s parents thought that Eva would be spared, but no, she was also on the list to move to a concentration camp. The night the Nazi’s came for the Traube family, Eva and her mother were going to help a neighbor. Eva’s father was not so lucky, and the Nazi’s took him away. Eva realized that she and her mother would have to escape Paris if they were going to survive. Despite her mother’s objections, Eva was able to flee to southern France and go into hiding. While there, Eva meets members of the French resistance who need her artistic help to make forged papers for Jews to escape across the Swiss border. Through her work, Eva meets another forger named Remy and the two of them connect in friendship. Eva wants to help the escaping children to remember their Jewish names when they come back to France and so the two forgers come up with a secret code that they place inside an old theological book.

                Eventually, France becomes so dangerous that Eva and her mother must also flee to the safety of Switzerland, but Eva does not want to leave Remy behind. Remy, though, is beginning to venture out with the resistance to help more children escape and plant bombs in German occupied cities. As the war becomes more dangerous, it seems as if their love and lives will be forever snuffed out.

                This book was a great read, especially for those who love historical fiction. It was fast paced, emotional, and very moving. You won’t be disappointed in reading this book. There is a great mix of love, loss, perseverance, and the indomitability of the human spirit. This book is a great weekend read or perfect for a book club.


By Erica

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