Monday, September 26, 2016

Karolina's Twins- Ronald H. Balson

My Rating: 3 Stars

Description: From the author of Once We Were Brothers comes a saga inspired by true events of a Holocaust survivor’s quest to fulfill a promise, return to Poland and find two sisters lost during World War II.

Lena Woodward, an elderly woman, enlists the help of both lawyer Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart to appraise the story of her harrowing past in Nazi occupied Poland. At the same time, Lena’s son Arthur presents her with a hefty lawsuit under the pretense of garnering her estate—and independence—for his own purposes. Where these stories intersect is through Lena’s dubious account of her life in war-torn Poland, and her sisterhood with a childhood friend named Karolina. Lena and Karolina struggled to live through the atrocity of the Holocaust, and at the same time harbored a courageous, yet mysterious secret of maternity that has troubled Lena throughout her adult life. In telling her story to Catherine and Liam, Lena not only exposes the realities of overcoming the horrors of the Holocaust, she also comes to terms with her own connection to her dark past.

Karolina’s Twins is a tale of survival, love, and resilience in more ways than one. As Lena recounts her story, Catherine herself also recognizes the unwavering importance of family as she prepares herself for the arrival of her unborn child. Through this association and many more, both Lena and Catherine begin to cherish the dogged ties that bind not only families and children, but the entirety of mankind.

My Thoughts: This story is told in two intersecting narratives, one being Lena's current search for Karolina's twins and the other being where she tells Catherine about her life during WWII. As such, most of the book is told in a first person dialogue from the perspective of Lena. These portions of the book were by far the strongest, capturing the day to day struggle of Jews under Nazi Germany while also showing instances of true courage on all sides.

Yet the modern day portion of the story fell flat. I constantly found myself questioning why I needed Catherine and Liam's input, as most of what they say in regard to WWII is commonly held knowledge. As well, the dialogue in their scenes was often stilted and centered around comic relief pertaining to pregnancy and feminism. Instead of reading like actual people, both seemed more like projections of modern society.

The shift back and forth between the two narratives can be frustrating. To go from intense scenes from the Holocaust to those of courtroom drama creates moments in which the temptation to put the book down is strong. For the historical aspect of Karolina's Twins alone, I would suggest reading this book, as it is the majority of the story. However, be prepared for some scenes that will most likely slow the story down.

Also, as a note for those who prefer to read books without it, there is a fair bit of language, some of which felt unnecessary.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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