Review: KAROLINA’S TWINS by Ronald H. BalsonKarolina's Twins by Ronald H Balson
Series: Liam and Catherine #3
Published by Macmillan on September 6th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Jewish
ARC provided by BEA 2016, St. Martin's Press

AmazonBook Depository

In the tradition of The Nightingale, Sarah's Key, and Lilac Girls, comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to return to Poland and fulfill a promise, from Ronald H. Balson, author of the international bestseller Once We Were Brothers.

~~“Readers who crave more books like Balson’s Once We Were Brothers and Kristin Hannah’s bestselling The Nightingale will be enthralled by Karolina’s Twins.” —Booklist (starred review)~~

She made a promise in desperationNow it's time to keep it
Lena Woodward, elegant and poised, has lived a comfortable life among Chicago Society since she immigrated to the US and began a new life at the end of World War II. But now something has resurfaced that Lena cannot ignore: an unfulfilled promise she made long ago that can no longer stay buried.

Driven to renew the quest that still keeps her awake at night, Lena enlists the help of lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart. Behind Lena’s stoic facade are memories that will no longer be contained. She begins to recount a tale, harkening back to her harrowing past in Nazi-occupied Poland, of the bond she shared with her childhood friend Karolina. Karolina was vivacious and beautiful, athletic and charismatic, and Lena has cherished the memory of their friendship her whole life. But there is something about the story that is unfinished, questions that must be answered about what is true and what is not, and what Lena is willing to risk to uncover the past. Has the real story been hidden these many years? And if so, why?

Two girls, coming of age in a dangerous time, bearers of secrets that only they could share.

Just when you think there could not be anything new to ferret out from World War II comes Karolina's Twins, a spellbinding new novel by the bestselling author of Once We Were Brothers and Saving Sophie. In this richly woven tale of love, survival and resilience during some of the darkest hours, the unbreakable bond between girlhood friends will have consequences into the future and beyond.

KAROLINA’S TWINS is the third book in a series. It can be read as a stand alone, but the character’s investigating the story are featured in two other books. This story is mostly about Lena, and 89 year old widow. She comes into Liam’s private detective office, but she demands that his wife, Catherine, be present to hear the story. Catherine is a lawyer and she sometimes helps her husband with investigations. Lena wants Catherine and Liam to help her find a friend’s twin children who were lost in Nazi occupied Poland during WWII. In the telling of this story, Catherine is very pregnant. Lena’s son, Author, questions his mother’s sanity and ability to make decisions for herself. Catherine must get to the information needed for Liam to find the children and/or prove they actually existed.

The main story is Lena telling her survival story. Her story was inspired by a real person the author met and interviewed, Fay Scharf Waldman. She is a survivor from war torn Poland. The story uses actual places and people who were there to give it an absolutely authentic feel. Lena’s story is gripping and heartbreaking. Every time I hear a story about survivors from WWII I am reminded that the hatred started off slowly. It was a systematic eradication of a people group that began with little prejudices.

Lena’s story starts before the war and takes us into hiding, and then the ghetto, and lands us in the Auschwitz death march. I wasn’t sure how much of Lena’s story was based on fact, but all of it was emotional. Some of it felt far fetched, but the fact that anyone could survive any of the events described is pretty inspiring. I found myself reading furiously to get back to Lena’s story when the author tried to tell us what Catherine and Liam were doing between visits from Lena. The insertion of Author, Lena’s son, gives this memoir an impatience as we have to get to the part with the identity and possible location of Karolina’s twins. By the end of the story, I was pretty well invested in all the characters both historical and present day.

This story will appeal to certain type of reader who enjoys both mystery and historical writing. Lucky for me I fit both the criteria. Although parts of this are horrifying, this book is about hope and survival. I found myself deeply moved in the reading of this and read it all in one day. I had to follow this story through to the end and I feel completely happy with ending.

My Rating

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Liam and Catherine series

About Ronald H Balson

4029839RONALD H. BALSON is a Chicago trial attorney, an educator, and writer. His practice has taken him to several international venues including Poland, which served as the inspiration for his first best selling novel, Once We Were Brothers. A love of history, the Middle East, and traveling inspired his second novel, Saving Sophie. He returns to Poland for his upcoming novel, Karolina's Twins, due out September 2016.

Balson was a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction in 2014 and a finalist for the Premio Bancarella Italian Literature Award in 2014. He was an honoree at the Chicago Public Library Foundation’s Carl Sandburg Literary Award dinner.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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