Genre: Historical Fiction
One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a very touching story. I loved it!
Myra is a young student, training to be a nurse at UCLA. Looking to rent a room near the university, she meets Helen Stein. A little wary of her prospective landlady at first, she comes to realise that Helen has faced unimaginable horror and has survived through one of history's most darkest times.
Helen is a wonderful character, I really liked this brave but wounded soul. This is her story and told in first person narrative.
When I was contacted by this author and asked to read this book I quickly said yes, even though I knew I would be in for an emotional roller coaster ride of enormous proportions having previously read another book written by her.
I started to read this story and within minutes had tears streaming down my face. This story took me on a journey into Germany and the political turmoil leading up to the outbreak of war in 1938 and beyond. Many families were affected, but seeing the world through Helen's eyes brought home to me how one family was torn apart simply because they didn't fit with the ideals of the country's leader.
Helen's story is full of horror, but there are moments of light that made me smile. Helen's family consisted of her father, Irving, her mother, Rose and three siblings: Lawrence, Shana and Ben. Helen was the youngest. I loved getting to know them, they were a warm and loving family. We are also introduced to Helen's neighbor and best friend Max, who also plays a pivotal role in this tale.
War is not a pretty subject and I felt the author did an amazing job in bringing the hardship and horror to life with her emotive and descriptive writing. I felt the horror and despair that Helen felt as her life imploded, I shuddered at the brutality brought on the people of Germany whether they were Jewish or not and felt the joy of being rescued from the awful concentration camps.
Genocide is not an easy subject to face never mind write about and my heart broke for all of the people (living and dead) affected by the second world war, however, I feel that the author broached the subject with sensitivity and tact. Soldiers were ordered to commit terrible atrocities against their own citizens and families, whilst ordinary hardworking families were torn apart or killed all in the name of a "pure race". Helen's tale, although dark at times, also showed me that even though they survived the war, scars still remained within those who lived long after the war finished. The pain of loss that they live with is unimaginable to me. However, their bravery and determination to survive against insurmountable odds made me feel proud of them too.
Although Helen is a fictional character, her story is not. I feel that she is the voice of all those who are (or were) unable to speak for themselves. Some people would like to sweep this terrible moment in history under the carpet where it could be forgotten. However, I feel that we should never forget the events so that it never happens again; I am not in favour of letting history repeat itself.
Paulette Mahurin has written another fantastic historical fiction novel. I love her descriptive writing style, which made the past and the characters come to life. I also love the flow, which kept me turning pages. She has a firm fan in me and I am now looking forward to reading more of her books in the future.
Due to scenes of violence, I do not recommend this book to young readers. However, I highly recommend this book as a MUST READ if you are looking for a fantastic story that will touch you deeply. - Lynn Worton
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While in college, she won awards and was published for her short-story writing. One of these stories, Something Wonderful, was based on the couple presented in His Name Was Ben, which she expanded into the fictionalized novel in 2014. The first week out, His Name Was Ben, made it to top ten books sold in the Amazon Kindle store (topic: health/wellness/cancer). Her first novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, made it to Amazon bestseller lists and won awards, including best historical fiction of the year 2012 in Turning the Pages Magazine.
Semi-retired, she continues to work part-time as a Nurse Practitioner in Ventura County. When she’s not writing, she does pro-bono consultation work with women with cancer, works in the Westminister Free Clinic as a volunteer provider, volunteers as a mediator in the Ventura County Courthouse for small claims cases, and involves herself, along with her husband, in dog rescue.
Profits from her books go to help rescue dogs.