WITHIN THESE WALLS OF SORROW by Amanda Barratt
A Novel of World War II Poland
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
RELEASE DATE: January 17, 2023
“As superbly written as it is haunting in its truth.” –Kate Breslin, best-selling author of For Such a Time
Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany’s invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.
Hania Silverman’s carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto’s population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania’s natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.
Zodia and Hania’s lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.
Amanda Barratt’s meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times.
“An unflinching tale that implores readers to stop and see, not a massive crowd of people, but individual hearts and souls. This book will linger in your heart and mind long after you’ve read the final page.” –Amanda Cox, Christy Award-winning author of The Edge of Belonging
It’s been a full day since I finished reading Within These Walls of Sorrow by Amanda Barratt. Whew. Not since Safely Home by Randy Alcorn has a book so deeply affected me, so stirred me to be someone who actively defies the evil in this world instead of staying in the ‘space between’ good and evil & allowing evil to thrive. Frankly, I don’t even know where to start with a review. There were so many raw emotions that I experienced while reading Within These Walls of Sorrow, and I know mere words aren’t going to do it justice. It’s truly a book that you need to read on your own.
Too often, when learning about World War 2 and the Holocaust, I think the eyes of our heart can tend to glaze over and see the horror of that time in generalities because we are (thankfully) so far removed from it. We often detach from the emotion of it and view it somewhat academically, viewing it as happening to an overall group en masse instead of putting ourselves into the history, instead of seeing each heartbreaking number as a person created in God’s image – a person who could have been our neighbor, our friend, our spouse, our employer, our relative. In some cases, it could have been me or you. With exquisitely gifted storytelling, Amanda Barratt puts us in the middle of the Ghetto, in the middle of the concentration camps, in the middle of the efforts to bring relief and rescue. And, in so doing, she both highlights the individual and tangles our own humanity with theirs, leaving us forever impacted by their stories.
Bottom Line: Brace yourself: on the pages of Within These Walls of Sorrow you will see the worst of that humanity. Evil men and women who not only committed vile and unimaginable acts against others, but also experienced great joy in doing so. Many of them real people (or based on them) who actually perpetrated these horrors. But at the same time, take heart: because on these pages you will also encounter the best of humanity. True heroes who exhibited sacrificial love in its purest form and dared to defy the evil wherever they could. Models of the type of human I want to be, many of whom are also actual historical figures or based on them. Amanda Barratt’s impeccable research allows her neither to shy away from the truth of these atrocities nor share them gratuitously. Instead, she carefully places each scene as an artist paints a masterpiece, with a brush mercifully dipped in hope and grace. I am a better person for having met Zosia and Hania and all the other characters in Within These Walls of Sorrow who were broken by hate and refused to give up on love, who looked evil in the eye and refused to do nothing. A brilliantly-written must-read for every person in the present so we never repeat this part of the past.
(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 5 stars / in a class by itself
Amanda Barratt is the Christy Award-winning, ECPA best-selling author of several novels and novellas, including My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a two-time FHL Reader’s Choice Award finalist. She and her family live in northern Michigan. Visit her at www.amandabarratt.net.
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