An example of Christian historical fiction at its finest.

Adonai, Remember Me

A debut novel that tells the story of the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of those around him. 

The tale of Jesus is known the world over, and whether you’re a believer, an admirer or a skeptic, you’re sure to know his story. This latest work to detail Jesus’ life opens in King Herod’s castle as the king considers the prophecy of the next Messiah, before he orders the killing of every male child in Bethlehem. As the work progresses, it runs parallel to the Gospels, but is told through the points of view of Jesus’ peers, friends and followers; Nicodemus and Caiaphas, for example, discuss Jesus’ growing influence. The story carries all the way through Jesus’ life, from his birth to his time in the temple, and finally, to the Crucifixion, adding new life to Bible stories along the way. Several of the main players of Jesus’ life, including Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist and Lazarus, are present in the text, adding validity and heft to the work. Lee uses imagination and historical research to flesh out his story, going so far as to include a bibliography of consulted works and a list of books for further reading. Some readers may find the actual Bible somewhat dry, and it’s not easy for some to get through; Lee paints a more enticing, more readable picture of what it was like to live in the time of Jesus, with vivid descriptions (“There had been unleavened bread dipped in sweet sauce, wine, and rice with leeks; there had been the music of pipe and lyre; there had been laughter and the singing of psalms”) and engaging dialogue. With this book, readers can watch Jesus Christ evolve in his teachings and practices, from his time as a young scholar in the temple to his martyrdom. It may encourage further reading of the original text by Christians seeking deeper meaning, or by newcomers hoping to learn more about Jesus Christ, the man. The original music in the back of the book, composed by Aran Lee, adds a lovely touch.

An example of Christian historical fiction at its finest.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490800219

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2014

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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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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