One of the offshoots of war is being forced to grow up quickly. Childhood quickly changes to adulthood when a young person must make decisions that would in peacetime, be made years later.
The Winter Guest: A Novel by Pam Jenoff, was published in 2014. In a small town in Poland during World War II, eighteen-year-old Polish-Catholic twins Ruth and Helena Nowak are no longer living as carefree teenagers. With their father dead and their mother hospitalized, the girls are both parenting themselves and their younger siblings. Adding insult to injury, the war is creating shortages and making a hard life even harder.
Things change when Helena rescues Sam, an American Jewish soldier. She quickly falls in love with him, and he with her. Her time with him threatens to break the tight bond between the sisters. They create a plan for the entire family to escape to safety. When they are betrayed, the consequences will have an effect well beyond that place and moment in time.
Jenoff does it again. This story is searing, romantic, powerful, and proof that love truly can overcome hate. I love that the protagonists are young women who are not waiting to be rescued, they do their own figurative rescuing. The book is amazing and I would read it again in a heartbeat.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Winter Guest: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.