The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
Hardcover- $25.20


Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, a young woman with a talent for forgery helps ...

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  "DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK" by Silversolara (see profile) 07/22/20

Was Eva seeing correctly? Did this newspaper article actually show the book she had used during the war to put children's names in that they had to change to protect their identity?

Eva had to go to Berlin immediately to claim it.

We now move from present day to 1942 where Eva and her Mother escape from Paris with documents she forged the morning after her father was arrested and taken to a prison camp.

Eva and her mother travel to Aurignon, France, on the advice of a friend where they found lodging and an observant owner that realizes their papers aren’t real.

That turned out well, though, because the owner was part of the French Resistance. Eva was asked to help forge travel documents and birth certificates for Jewish children.

Eva didn’t want to allow the children to be lost forever to their real names so she and Rémy invented a code that would keep the children anonymous but be able to know their real names some day.

The code they used was brilliant, and Eva saved many children.

Now that it is 65 years later she hopes to help find the children and let them know their real names.

THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is another impressive Kristin Harmel gem.

It will grab your heart and pull you in.

Words cannot express the beauty of this book.

All I can say is you must read this book to appreciate it. 5/5

This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  "An interesting read, but, to me, it did not accurately represent Jews." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 10/31/20

The Book of Lost Names, Kristin Harmel, author; Madeline Maby, narrator
This book is touted as historic fiction. It takes place during WWII and the Holocaust. I read a lot about this topic, and I was encouraged, at first, by the attempt to show that the Church was not always anti-Semitic. It had actually, actively intervened and engaged in helping Jewish children to escape from the Fascists. I did wonder, however, if they helped the Jewish children in order to proselytize them, since the book indicates that no effort was made, initially, to identify them appropriately so that they could be returned to their families at the end of the war, if a relative survived. Presumably, there was no widespread knowledge of “death camps” at that time, so why not?
When the novel begins, an 87 year old librarian, Eva Traube Abrams, discovers an article about a book that has been found in a Paris library, a book that has been missing for more than six decades. During WWII, she and another man had created this book. It contained a code that was intended to be used to identify the children they rescued, so that after the war they could reunite them with their families.
When Eva’s father was arrested, Eva and her mother fled to Paris and made it to the Free Zone. With the help of her father’s friend, Eva had used her artistic talent to forge papers giving them new identities. She then used this talent and became the Underground’s forger, creating documents that provided new identities for Jewish children who were then smuggled into Switzerland and freedom.
Working for the Underground, Eva and Remy, a fellow forger, fall madly in love with each other. Their relationship feels like a high school crush and her behavior seems a bit out of character. Often a four year old or six year old makes a comment that seems to have more common sense and a more adult philosophy than Eva did. As a character, I found the very young Eva, a bit too arrogant, while at the same time, also very naïve. It was a contradiction in her personality. I kept thinking would the real Eva please stand up! It was hard to identify her age. At times, she seemed like an uninformed teenager or a spoiled brat, but then so did her mother. They seemed to be in an alternate reality, neither quite comprehending the real danger they were facing nor the real danger they had escaped. They seemed utterly out of touch with events, and their expectations and actions often forced the reader to suspend disbelief.
Fortunately, the book is about forging documents during the war, and it is not about real people. I cannot believe that someone who had escaped the clutches of the Nazis would have so often behaved so thoughtlessly, endangering others. She seemed to be rather selfish, satisfying her own needs above all, and although she was often exposed to extreme danger, she seemed unaware and yet escaped unharmed. In reality, I believe the character would have been caught, tortured and possibly executed.
The depiction of Eva Traube’s mother, Mamusia, was a caricature of a Jewish mother, in the worst light. The author paints her as constantly shaming and blaming Eva, filling her with guilt for actions that should have been praised. While the jokes about Jewish mothers may sometimes elicit laughs, this book did not. Mamusia seems like an ungrateful bigot who rejects those of other religions entirely and has no appreciation for the risks her daughter takes on her behalf or on the behalf of orphans. Her husband, Tatus, on the other hand, is painted as a compassionate, open-minded individual who holds no prejudices against those of other religions. At that time, and in some circles today, that is completely untrue. Decades after the war, I had an uncle who sat Shiva for his daughter when she married out of the religion. He threatened to commit suicide, as well. Actually, even Eva’s eventual marriage is kind of a fairy tale that defies reality.
I question the message the author wishes to impart to her audience as she tells this story. Why did she make the person who ultimately betrays the members of the underground, destroying their network and their rescue effort, a man with a Judaic background? Why did she portray Jews as so shallow and self absorbed while the Christians were heroic in all their deeds? I do not think that this book would educate the reader on the plight of the Jew during WWII nor would it endear the reader to their need for a homeland. On the whole they seemed backward and utterly selfish which is an unkind picture of their reality.

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  "WWII historical fiction" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/31/22

As Eva says, Those "who realize that books are magic...will have the brightest lives,", I wish you the very brightest days ahead. Wow oh Wow, one of my favorite books I ever read about WWII! This book is historical fiction at its best of Eva and Remy forging documents to save many Jews to get out of France (many were children). So many facets to this story, present 2005 Eva and 1940 Eva. A book of loss, betrayal and even a love story. I cried at the end for the many losses that Eva experienced and for present Eva in 2005 when she saw the Book of Lost Names, again.

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