The latest novel from Cathy Gohlke, Saving Amelie (Tyndale House
Publishers), is an exciting, heart pounding – and often heart wrenching – story
set in Germany during World War II.
Rachel Kramer, adopted daughter of a prestigious
genetics researcher, returns to Berlin with her father in 1939 to find it much
changed from her youth. At first naïve and preoccupied, she takes little notice
of the presence of SS Officers, Adolf Hitler’s “supermen”, and their impending
threat to the citizens of Germany.
When a childhood friend reaches out to Rachel for
help in saving her daughter Amelie, deaf since birth, Rachel begins to realize
the true plans of the Nazis and her father’s entangled involvement with them.
Hitler wishes to rid the world of anyone with a disability, such as Amelie, and
others he declares unfit by ghastly means. As she uncovers the secrets of her
father’s research, Rachel realizes the threat of the Nazis and the power they
have over the unsuspecting German people.
Jason Young, an American reporter stationed in
Berlin, is waiting for his big break with a first rate news story. After
meeting Rachel Kramer and helping her solve some of the puzzling facts about
her biological family, he becomes the only person who can help her rescue
Amelie and flee a frightening new realty that is closing in fast. When more
secrets come to light, Rachel must find a place to hide while evading the SS
officers desperately searching for her.
Rachel and Jason’s characters both grow and mature
as a result of their circumstances and the people around them. As Jason
questions his motives in helping Rachel, he discovers the meaning of sacrifice
and selflessness, and the possibilities of faith in God. When Rachel’s life
suddenly changes, she goes through a time of disappointment and unhappiness. However,
her character begins to find new hope, even in the midst of her trials, because
of the love and care of the people around her.
Gohlke conveys the emotions of the characters
effectively through her writing style. The reader experiences the terrors and
heartache of the war-torn time, and is caught, as the characters are, right in
the middle of the action. With small glimpses into the supporting characters’
journeys along the way, the reader is privy to more than just the viewpoints of
the main characters. Additionally, small bits of the characters’ personalities,
habits, and mannerisms are well-placed, aiding in making the characters realistic.
Numerous historical facts are woven into this
story, with some characters or their actions modeled after real people. There
are great examples of people helping each other, in small ways, doing whatever
they can to help bear the burden and plight of their people. German Pastor
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a renowned theologian who spoke out against Nazi
persecution, even makes a few appearances in the story. These characters
reinforce the strength of setting Gohlke establishes, engrossing the reader in
WWII Germany, in a time of food rations, blackouts, confiscation of personal
property, and genocide.
Amelie communicates an important message through the journeys of
Rachel, Jason, Amelie, and others. Through these struggling characters’
stories, the reader sees that God loves everyone, even through uncertainty and
trails. His strength is there, even when His children are weak and powerless. Sacrifice
is a decision. As the characters experience firsthand, it is often easier to
turn one’s back on the suffering and wrongs of this world – but that is not
what Jesus did. He sacrificed the ultimate price because of his love, providing
this “costly grace” freely to any who would believe.
Clark is a small-town girl from Arkansas who loves Jesus, reading, photography,
cooking, crocheting, and hot tea (in any combination). When she’s not
doing any of those things, she’s working at her family’s
restaurant or teaching at the local community college. Catch up with her at her
blog, thegreenmockingbird.wordpress.com, or follow her on twitter @CameraCourt.