Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: The Lily Pond

Often when I'm pressed for time and need to pick up an audio book for my exercise accompaniment, I head straight for the MG and YA section of the audio book shelves. I know I'll find something clean and appropriate and most of the time, I strike gold. Sadly, this wasn't true with one MG book I attempted before this one, Confessions of an Imaginary Friend. It turned out to be an uninteresting book (despite getting all four and five star reviews on Amazon) and I set it aside and picked up this one, Annika Thor's The Lily Pond. It was a much better choice.

Stephie Steiner is a thirteen-year-old Jew from Vienna who has been sent to Sweden, for safety sake, to live with relatives. While she is there she is offered an academic scholarship to attend grammar school in Goteborg. She is boarding with a wealthy doctor's family, the Soderbergs, but feels beholden to them for taking her in so that she can attend school. She bristles at the expectations for gratitude when her own parents are doctors who are being unfairly treated. Moreover, she is struggling with a love interest in the Soderberg's son, Sven, who is five years older but very attentive and kind to her.

The book paints a very realistic picture of what it must have been like for Jewish children who were separated from their parents during the war and sent as refugees to live elsewhere, while filled with concern and worry for the outcome for their parents. It is a touching story of young love, of coming-of-age, and of friendship. I discovered, after listening for a bit, that this is actually a follow-up book, to a first book called A Faraway Island. I have found that book at the library and intend to read it as well, even though I prefer to read books in the order they were written. I believe I'll still enjoy the experience.

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