A well-crafted and heartwarming cross-cultural tale of first love.

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CHASING PARADISE

From the Paradise series

In this debut novel, an unconventional romance ignites in Pennsylvania Amish country.

When teenager Rachel Adams, one of the main characters in Patterson’s series opener, moves with her mother from Florida to Paradise, Pennsylvania, in the wake of her father’s death, she’s expecting disappointment and loneliness. Rachel’s mother, Beverly, has purchased a farmhouse in Paradise, and because it requires the extensive attention of an expert handyman, she’s referred to young Paul Fischer, an Amish teenager who comes highly recommended. Rachel is determined to step outside her own resentment of the move. “If there was any hope of contentment, it was up to her to make that happen,” she muses, nevertheless bitterly telling herself that “regardless of the name, this would never be paradise.” For his part, Paul looks on the offer to do work unconnected to his well-meaning family and domineering uncle as an answered prayer even though his upbringing has warned him constantly about the dangers of associating too closely with outsiders. In the standard manner of such love stories, circumstances conspire to bring the two young people together, and romantic chemistry almost immediately develops. In gentle stages, Rachel warms to Paul. “He was amazingly easy to talk to, this Amish man who’d entered her life,” she thinks at one point. “Every encounter she had with Paul made the scales tip in favor of staying in this small town—of even being happy about it.” Patterson captures this slow process with a careful ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for the texture of small-town life. The book indulges in very little of the saccharine idealization that often mars Amish fiction. Instead, the difficulties thrown in the path of true love here feel entirely organic and unforced—including the competition Paul faces for Rachel’s attentions from Kevin Williams, an outsider. The author writes a fairly predictable story with a great deal of heart and conviction; readers should be charmed almost from the first chapter.

A well-crafted and heartwarming cross-cultural tale of first love.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5413-2637-8

Page Count: 291

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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