The Orphan's Tale
Rating: 4 Stars
"Sometimes our forever life does not last as long as we think."
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep... When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night. Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another--or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.
This book was not at all what I expected and I think I loved it for that. The last thing I anticipated was a WWII novel set within a circus! Noa is very much a sixteen year old girl who has been forced to grow up too quickly, and it shows repeatedly throughout the book. However, her adoration for this child she rescues from the boxcar is unexpected and beautiful. I think Astrid, being in her 30s, provided a nice and more realistic contrast to Noa's character. Astrid was very much jaded by the world and the realities of the world she lived in. Noa was still naive enough to be hopeful about love and life. I think the most beautiful thing is that these two develop such an unexpected friendship.
I will admit at times I was so frustrated with Astrid who seemed to forget that Noa was a child; but somehow the two always resolved their issues. I think it was mostly easy at times to forget this was a story of WWII, but when you were reminded it was in the most intense and memorable types of ways. I will admit the book was a little slow to get started but by the end it just felt like everything was coming at you at once. The story has romance and betrayal and loss and grief and hope. It is a story of sacrifice and survival. But most of all it is a story of friendship. It really is a must read story for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.