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The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

A young girl is kidnapped from her German parents before the rise of the Nazis and is raised in the forest to protect her from becoming a Nazi. But even an attempt to shield her from her inevitable future is futile and she becomes enmeshed in Jewish refugees’ lives and becomes important to their survival. But interaction with others has its consequences and takes Yona on a complicated journey of finding herself and learning who she really is. The ending was poetic and left me wanting to understand more. As a side note, Kristin did a great job of explaining the historical background that inspired the book. Hands down, a different spin on the human condition and experiences during the Holocaust.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel, (List Price: 28, Gallery Books, 9781982158934, 2021-07-06)

Reviewed by Lauren Zimmerman, Writers Block Bookstore in Winter Park, Florida

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The Push by Ashley Audrain

The Push, a debut novel, is a psychological thriller that tells the tales of three generations of women who have been abused and are passing on their traumas to each other. The unsettling reality that Blythe finds herself in is her inability to know what a good mother is or how to become a good mother. She doesn’t have the confidence to trust her instincts.  So, when she finally had her daughter, Violet, nothing seems to be the way it should, but how can she truly know. This book makes you think about how fragile mother-daughter relationships are and where struggles between them originated. 

Blythe is trying to change the abuse sequences, but her husband is dismissive and provides no support. Thankfully she has a clue what it means to be a loving mother by her relationship with a neighbor growing up who could see her for the beautiful child she was.  Kirkus Review wrote, “A finely wrought psychological study of motherhood and inherited trauma…not for the faint of heart; it offers no easy answers.”  All I can say is that it has been a long time since the very last paragraph changed the entire book for me.  I read this book in one sitting. 

The Push by Ashley Audrain (List Price: $26.oo, Pamela Dorman Books, 9781984881663, January 5, 2021)

Reviewed by Lauren Zimmerman, Writers Block Bookstore in Winter Park, Florida

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