Wednesday, June 30, 2021

BLOG TOUR - The Woman with the Blue Star


1942. Sadie Gault is eighteen and living with her parents amid the horrors of the Kraków Ghetto during World War II. When the Nazis liquidate the ghetto, Sadie and her pregnant mother are forced to seek refuge in the perilous sewers beneath the city. One day Sadie looks up through a grate and sees a girl about her own age buying flowers.

Ella Stepanek is an affluent Polish girl living a life of relative ease with her stepmother, who has developed close alliances with the occupying Germans. Scorned by her friends and longing for her fiancé, who has gone off to war, Ella wanders Kraków restlessly. While on an errand in the market, she catches a glimpse of something moving beneath a grate in the street. Upon closer inspection, she realizes it’s a girl hiding.

Ella begins to aid Sadie and the two become close, but as the dangers of the war worsen, their lives are set on a collision course that will test them in the face of overwhelming odds. Inspired by harrowing true stories, The Woman with the Blue Star is an emotional testament to the power of friendship and the extraordinary strength of the human will to survive.

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:   The Woman with the Blue Star
Author:  Pam Jenoff
Publisher:  Park Row
Genre:   Historical Fiction
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:  May 4, 2021 
My Rating:   5 Stars

Is there any way to survive beyond despair and hopelessness? In this fictionalized tale of two young women, this incredibly heartbreaking and what will most certainly prove to be memorable story by Pam Jenoff, these very emotions due to harrowing experiences are explored.  

Surviving in the Kraków Ghetto during the bleak days of World War II was mostly impossible and proved a death sentence for an incredible number of Jews. Driven to the sewers and being forced to survive in utterly deplorable conditions is the only way two families can survive the Nazis intent on liquidating the ghetto in 1942.

Sadie and her parents barely survive day by day and one day she looks up through a grate and meets Ella Stepanek, a Polish woman of a similar age. The two become as close as sisters despite their impossible predicament. Both Sadie and Ella's lives are filled with grief, but for entirely different reasons. Hiding in the sewer is a nearly impossible experience for Sadie. For Ella, living with her stepmother who has allianced herself with the Germans, and losing her fiancé brings Ella her own form of grief and pain.

I have read more than a few historical fiction books and they all have had a powerful impact on me. This book, The Woman with the Blue Star, hit me harder than most. I admit to breaking down in tears more than once, and even had to put the book down a few times to gather myself. This book is an important one, and it is utterly relevant. In fact, in the Acknowledgments at the back of the book the author gives great insight as to why she wrote this book and how it even impacts us now, as many of us are leaving the seclusion of our lives due to the pandemic.

With Sadie and Ella, their seclusion was different, of course. With Sadie, she had to remain hidden underground in order to survive. For Ella, even walking about Poland as a legal citizen, she could not go about without papers. Unimaginable to me, but definitely worth deep thought.

I am reading this book late, but in searching through my backlog, I realized the importance of this book and strove to get it read and reviewed, and now hope that other readers will also take the time to immerse themselves in this nugget of history. This book teaches about survival and that is something that we all need to learn in one way or another.

Many thanks to Park Row and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion. 


Pam Jenoff is the author of several books of historical fiction, including the NYT bestseller The Orphan’s Tale. She holds a degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her JD from UPenn. Her novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. She lives with her husband and 3 children near Philadelphia, where she teaches law.

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  1. I have this on my cloud - you have me wanting to get to it pronto!

  2. What a poignant sounding and beautiful book this is. Great review.

  3. This one sounds powerful and poignant. Thanks for sharing.