Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: The Baker's Daughter

The Baker’s Daughter
by Sarah McCoy
Why did you choose this book? I saw this book in the ‘coming soon’ section and thought the story sounded interesting 
When did you read this book? March 2012
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction, particularly WW II fiction
Here is a synopsis of ‘The Baker’s Daughter' from Goodreads, where it rates 4.05 stars.
Source: ebook borrowed from my local library
In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naïve teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. But in the waning days of the Nazi empire, with food scarce and fears of sedition mounting, even the private yearnings of teenage girls were subject to suspicion and suppression. Elsie’s courtship by Josef Hub, a rising star in the Army of the Third Reich, has insulated her and her family from the terror and desperation overtaking her country. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door puts all she loves in danger. 
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is a rolling stone, perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a full-time fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba knows that in every good story, lines will be blurred. 
Reba's latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie's German Bakery is no easy subject. Elsie keeps turning the tables on Reba, and Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba's questions have been a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki's lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive. 
My Review 
I’ve really developed an interest in the WW II era in the past year, and this is another story about that period. There are really two stories here; one from the war years in Germany, and the other from current day El Paso. The story begins when Reba, a reporter, interviews Elsie, the owner of a German bakery in El Paso. Elsie grew up in Germany during the war years, and as a young woman, was engaged to an SS officer. Reba is engaged to  Riki, a border crossing guard and US citizen born of Mexican parents, who came to America legally. 
The story raises some interesting questions about how far one goes in supporting laws and government without compromising one’s ethics. It is very interesting to see how Elsie evolves from Hitler supporter, to questioning the Nazi beliefs, to actually hiding a Jewish child from the Nazis. The story appears to draw parallels between treatment of the Jews in Nazi Germany and treatment of the Mexican aliens in Texas. and the struggles Elsie and Riki have with these treatments. 
There were some difficult circumstances in the novel, but I learned a lot about Nazi Germany and was inspired to do some reading, in particular about the Lebensborn program. (If you aren’t familiar with this term, google it.) I was intrigued by this book and think it will make for a great discussion for book clubs!
My Rating:  ★★★★1/2   4-1/2 Stars

Challenges: 2012 Historical Fiction Challenge, 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge, 2012 Ebook Challenge, New Author Challenge

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