Review of Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

Recently, I’ve been on a kick of WWII books. Saving Amelie seemed right up my alley, and oh man. It was.

The first third of this book was honestly a little slow for me. There were so many different POVs that changed so often that I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters. I also read the first part really slowly, so that may have also contributed to my initial apathy toward the book. However, a little over half-way, this book really picked up for me.

Let’s talk about the characters. Even though there were way too many for me in the beginning, by the end of the book, I onboard with the multiple POVs. I really started liking almost everyone equally (except for that Schlick or Sick or whatever his name was. Yuck, what a creep.) I haven’t read many books where I liked that many of the characters, but most books also aren’t written with the characters so equally represented. I was under the impression that Rachel and Jason were the main characters, but by the end, I didn’t feel as if they really were. The author balanced all of the other POVs so well that she had me rooting for the side characters just as much as the main characters. In fact, Jason was probably my least favorite (not that I didn’t like him; I think it had something to do with the fact that he was always separated from the other characters and doing his own thing.) Rachel was a little annoying, but I loved that the author made her so flawed. She had been brainwashed her entire life with lies, so it was only natural that she acted as she believed. That was really well done. But Lea and Friederich … oh, Friederich. Like, that man wasn’t even in there that much, but he just so gentle and kind and honest … and yeah. I loved Friederich, if you can’t tell. He was so good to Lea, and she was so sweet to him. Lea also wasn’t perfect – which I appreciated again! – but I think she topped Rachel. And Oma! I can’t forget about her. She was strong and brave in the face of much danger, and she loved her granddaughters so well.

Now, to the plot. To be honest, I felt like the plot was a tad bit wandering. I just didn’t feel a clear sense of direction other than the vague goal of escaping the badguy. However, this didn’t really bother me too much, except now that I think about it, maybe that was what made the first part of the book harder for me. I’m not sure. But by the time I got to the end, I was so invested in the characters’ lives that I could happily accept any wandering plots.

There were a few tiny quibbles I had with this book – namely the curate dude who was obviously Catholic but no one really had a problem with that. If he believed Catholic doctrine, then he wasn’t a Christian. I’m fine with a Catholic characters being in there, but assuming they’re a believer isn’t right. Also, Jason’s conversion was a little weird … he kind of just started believing in God and making sacrifices for the good of others. I’m just assuming he got saved off-scene, but there wasn’t a clear point in time when he trusted Christ.

And now the theme/moral. I love books that make you think and address real historical problems. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fiction book that addressed the topic of eugenics so thoroughly and painfully. After taking a class on special education, this topic really became important to me. What happened to “unwanted” people groups back during this time of history is horrifying, but it wasn’t just Germany who practiced this hideous establishment. The author addressed the fact that America had its own part in the eugenics movement, right alongside Germany and other countries. Showing the depravity of this practice is so important, because it even continues to this day, if not in explicit form, but in the practice of abortions. Something like 90% of babies who have Down syndrome are aborted before they are born. If that’s not eugenics, I don’t know what is. Great books can change society, and to do so, current events have to be addressed, usually indirectly. I am so thankful that the author brought this all to light. Reading about Nazi Germany is a little disturbing – both because of what happened back then, but also because it begins looking a little too much like our society today. We can’t erase history, and books like these remind us of what happens when we take God out of the picture and present man as a god. In one of the conversations Jason was asked why he was going to help save Amelie. That immediately made me think of the fact that without the Bible, without God’s Word, we have nothing to stop us from doing anything we dream of. Every man does what’s right in his own eyes, just like in Nazi Germany. However, with the Bible, we have sure standards of morality and right and wrong. All life – from the smallest to the largest, from the strongest to the weakest – is incredibly precious. And those of us who are able must defend those who cannot.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction – and really to anyone who enjoys fiction. I loved how this book brought serious, horrible matters to light and showed them as the filthiness they are. The author broke my heart several times. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work again.

4 thoughts on “Review of Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

  1. “All life – from the smallest to the largest, from the strongest to the weakest – is incredibly precious. And those of us who are able must defend those who cannot.”

    *chokes up* Wow. That’s so true.
    “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
    for the rights of all who are destitute.
    Speak up and judge fairly;
    defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)

    Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

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