|For Such a Time|
by Kate Breslin
Bethany House Publishers
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther
In 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.
Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.
Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?
When it comes to the story of Esther, I'm always intrigued. I've read a few retellings in my time and I've enjoyed most of them. Kate Breslin's debut novel, For Such a Time is one of those novels. While not perfect, it is certainly an interesting, thought-provoking, and dramatic read.
Hadassah Benjamin is saved from a Nazi firing squad only to fall into the hands of a potentially more dangerous foe, SS Colonel Aric von Schmidt. Keeping her Jewish identity a secret soon becomes top priority for "Stella". In order to save as man of her people as possible, she must also stay on the Colonel's good side. Little does she know that Aric is a multi-faceted guy and there is more to him than meets the eye.
For Such a Time is indeed as gripping a story as the author endorsements on the cover promised it to be. Heart-wrenching scenes, especially those involving the children and the elderly, remind the reader of the atrocities that took place not that long ago. I dare you not to tear up while reading this book. While it is definitely, for the most part, moving, the romance of the story didn't mesh for me. No matter how nice a character may seem, it's very difficult for me to get past the fact that they had a part in killing thousands upon thousands of people. It just made the story feel clumsy and strange in places, this says a lot coming from a reader who thinks romance makes almost anything better. That said, I still very much am glad to have read this story and will make a point to pick up this new author's sophomore book as I'm sure her star in the genre will only rise!
~ My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars ~