The first book I ever read that was set during World War II was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and it literally took my breath away. It was, and remains, one of the most poignant, harrowing, and saddest stories a pen has ever put to paper.
I find it really hard to review/talk about books set during WWII because it’s not exactly a topic you can say you love when the subject matter is so traumatising. But it’s a genre I’ve always been drawn to for many reasons.
Firstly, because it brings the truth to light. Hitler’s concentration camps and Nazi regime were around for years before anyone put an end to the violence he was inflicting. Millions of innocent people were separated from their loved ones and made to suffer unspeakable cruelty, which for many ended in a brutal death. Reading and sharing these stories is one way to ensure this never happens again.
Secondly, as historical fiction is probably my favourite genre, I’m always seeking out unique angles that tell a different side to the story. As with the nature of my blog, the more diverse the better.
Thirdly, I’ll never fully understand or experience anything close to what these people went through during the Holocaust. But I hope that by reading stories that are seeped in truth, I can educate myself and be less ignorant towards the sheer suffering that was inflicted on millions of human beings.
That being said, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has noticed the multitude of authors churning out WWII books right now. Granted, the majority are well-researched and published with the right intentions. But there are some I feel are jumping on a trend and selling purely to line their pockets. There are a few I have DNF’d for this reason and why I now research the book before choosing to read. You won’t see those bandwagon-ers here.
The Girl From Berlin by Ronald H. Balson
Before travelling to Italy to assist with a property dispute, Liam and Catherine receive a mysterious manuscript from Gabi, the homeowner. Narrated by a Jewish German girl, it documents her life growing up as a prestigious violinist during the war. Does this manuscript hold answers that will prove Gabi’s ownership?
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Set in France during Germany’s invasion, the novel centres around two sisters who react very differently to the war. One must protect her family at all costs, while the other is driven to rebel, putting herself and those around her in unimaginable danger.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Slovakian Jew, Lale Sokolov was sent to Auschwitz in 1942 and given the job of ‘Tätowierer’ where he inflicted pain and permanence on his camp mates. Of the thousands of numbers he etched, he always remembered 34902 belonging to Gita – the woman he fell in love with and vowed to live for.
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Sage and Josef meet at a grief support group where they spark an unlikely friendship.When Josef confesses an unimaginable secret and asks Sage for her help, she is torn between two choices – punishment for the unforgivable or acquittal in an act of mercy.
- The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
- People Like Us by Louise Fein