The Forest of Vanishing Stars – Book Review

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, Yona finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted; however, she encounters a group of Jewish refugees in the forest and shows them how to evade the Nazis and survive the harsh winters. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come collide, putting her and the group in danger.

Author Kristin Harmel instantly captured my attention and held it until the last syllable of her latest novel. Her research is impressive: not only did she dig into how Jews evaded the Nazis by hiding in the wilderness, but she also took a deep dive into how to live off the land ā€” what foods to eat, how to make and use holistic medications, how to build camouflaging shelters, and how to forage and hunt ā€” while running for your life. It is evocative, haunting, and heart-wrenching, but ultimately triumphant. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.

Genre: Historical fiction
Read-alikes: The Black Swan of Paris (Karen Robards), The Last Train to London (Meg Waite Clayton), Dragonfly (Leila Meacham), The World That We Once Knew (Alice Hoffman), A Boy in Winter (Rachel Seiffert), We Were the Lucky Ones (Georgia Hunter), The Girl from the Channel Islands (Jenny Lecoat)

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