The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (PeopleThe Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.” Publishing July6, 2021

Photograph by Phil Art Studio, Reims, France Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost NamesThe Winemaker’s WifeThe Room on Rue Amélie, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. She lives in Orlando, Florida.

The Grateful Reader Review by Dorothy Schwab

The Forest of Vanishing Stars shines a blinding light on a baby with a birthmark on her wrist in the shape of a dove and an old woman whose mother told her that knowing impossible things was a gift of God passed down through the blood of only the most fortunate Jewish women. Twenty years later 1942, Poland is being bombed and books are being burned in Berlin, so the old woman, Jerusza, leads baby “Yona”, now 22, deep into the forest of Nalibocka. Words of warning are to never venture outside the forest. A compelling struggle for survival takes the reader farther and farther into the forest, to underground zemliankas, through murky swamps and even onto an island with Resistance groups living day to day on survival skills learned in the cruelest situations. Through Yona’s frightening and eye-opening encounters, feelings of confusion, realization, and hope lead to a turning point in her struggle for survival. “After a lifetime of being told what to do, how to feel; of a stolen childhood, of a life of loneliness she hadn’t asked for,” Yona finally has a choice. Readers will empathize with Yona as she learns expressions of human love: the comfort of another’s touch and experiencing the joy of others. As Yona “comes of age” in this dangerous, strange world she must decide if one has to let go of the old life to have a new one? Words of wisdom to Yona and the reader: “In the times of greatest darkness, the light always shines through, because there are people who stand up to do brave, decent things…it doesn’t matter what you were born to be. It matters what you choose to become.” Choose to read The Forest of Vanishing Stars and like Yona, be changed.

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