Two women, separated by generations but brought together by a common heritage, are forced to fight for their families and futures, and discover more courage than they believed possible. Sera, a newlywed, must find the evidence to exonerate her husband of a crime he didn’t commit, while Kaja must rescue her parents from certain death in a Nazi concentration camp. Will they be successful or will the risk cost them more than they can bear?
The setting of A Sparrow in Terezin takes place in two diverse locations: present-day America and Europe, and a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two. While there are some wonderful descriptions of the contemporary surroundings, Cambron’s best imagery is reserved for the stark environment of Nazi-held Europe in the 1940’s. The deprivation, desperation, and deplorable conditions experienced by the Jews are vividly depicted and, heart-breaking as it is, effective for story immersion. Although the author took some liberties to enhance the story, she should be credited for alerting readers about those liberties, and for doing the historical research to make the novel plausible.
A Sparrow in Terezin is told through two points of view: those of Sera (present-day) and Kaja (past). Each is a strong woman who is determined to persevere in spite of the enormous obstacles placed in her path. Each character has a unique voice. However, the characters surrounding Kaja’s story are more believable and more sympathetic, while Sera and those surrounding her lack a certain depth, and the present-day plotline reflects it. It is easier to identify with Kaja’s pain than with Sera’s because of the incredible suffering portrayed. The dialogue reflects each personality well and moves the story forward without burdening the prose with unnecessary information.
For this reader, the book starts slow, and it takes some time to warm up to the characters. There are a few curious placements of scenes and, at times, the plot doesn’t stay with one storyline long enough before switching time periods. However, when the story switches from the present-day to past events, the novel takes off because the scenes are gripping and the characters engaging.
A Sparrow in Terezin is a well-written tale driven equally by characters’ actions and external events. In the World-War-Two plot, there is no let-down in the middle, and the suspense grows into a spell-binding climax. However, the present-day plot is missing the element of suspense. There is a similar dichotomy in the endings as well. The historical plot has a surprising finish while the contemporary plot’s ending feels flat.
The conflict in A Sparrow in Terezin is balanced between the characters’ personal struggles and external events. The tension allows the lead characters to grow and develop as they overcome difficulties in a realistic way. Kaja’s character exemplifies this quality in extraordinary ways, which makes her even more sympathetic. The romantic angle of both plots is used to increase the story’s tension without saturating the entire plot. The love story is communicated sweetly and realistically, but with greater depth in the plot which takes place in the past.
The spiritual message in the novel is strong and unmistakable. It permeates the entire novel without superficial clichés, and it explores timeless questions without a preachy tone pervasive in some Christian fiction.
A Sparrow in Terezin is geared to Christian women, and it might also appeal to Historical Fiction fans. There is no objectionable content but, rather, the suffering is depicted in a moving way without graphic descriptions. This is a stand-alone novel, but the second in Kristy Cambron’s Hidden Masterpiece Series. I suggest one read them in sequential order as there are continuous storylines.
Despite the lack of depth in one plotline, A Sparrow in Terezin is a well-written, incredible tale of love, loss, and God’s providence in the midst of dark times.
I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.