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Sara Young My Enemy's Cradle

a book by Sara Young

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"You can't walk around blind, just because you don't want to see."

  • Jan 11, 2008
Rating:
+4
In 1941 Rotterdam, Cyrla has spent the last five years with her cousin's family, to better get to know "her mother's people", sent away from a Poland threatened by the gathering storm of war and Hitler's determined decimation of the Jewish population. Cyrla suspects she is a painful reminder to her father after her mother's death; yet even in her cousin's home, the girl is uncomfortable, her half-Jewish background a shadow on the others. Cousins Anneke and Cyrla are close, but Anneke's father is increasingly impatient and hostile to the extra person at the table. As ominous news reaches the family of the closing of the Polish ghettoes, paranoia increases in Schiedam, the family increasingly anxious about Cyrla's vulnerability.

Although her soldier boyfriend is suddenly unavailable, Anneke's announcement of pregnancy is not greeted kindly by an intolerant father, who arranges for his daughter to be sent to a Lebensborn, one of the German maternity homes where acceptable young women bear the babies of the pure blooded German race. Suddenly Cyrla must choose between an uncertain future and a chance to take her cousin's place at the Lebensborn. With barely time to prepare for living as Anneke, Cyrla is thrust into a foreign environment where every word and false move breeds danger. Keeping her own counsel, the mother-to-be is desperately lonely, torn with guilt over her transformation into her cousin, dreading discovery as her own baby grows. Benefiting from a monstrous enterprise to repopulate the world with pure-blooded Aryans, Cyrla is an intruder with a terrible secret.

Describing Cyrla's predicament with chilling accuracy, from the paranoia of Schiedam to the insular world of the Lebensborn, Anneke's soldier's fate unknown, Cyrla's beloved Isaak at risk of death in the camps and a world at war, the author reveals the ugly details of those caught in Hitler's dream of a Master Race, whether by choice or circumstance and the infinite dangers of hiding in plain sight. The once-naïve protagonist is forced to confront the terrible realities of her position and limited choices at the Lebensborn. That she might find love in such a place is extraordinary, for there are monstrosities at the heart of this novel, evil born of an ideology that flourishes while Cyrla navigates a treacherous path. Shocking and painful, the author injects hope into the hopeless, love into the unlovable. Luan Gaines/ 2008.

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More My Enemy's Cradle reviews
review by . January 10, 2009
My Enemy's Cradle
In 1941 Rotterdam, Cyrla has spent the last five years with her cousin's family, to better get to know "her mother's people", sent away from a Poland threatened by the gathering storm of war and Hitler's determined decimation of the Jewish population. Cyrla suspects she is a painful reminder to her father after her mother's death; yet even in her cousin's home, the girl is uncomfortable, her half-Jewish background a shadow on the others. Cousins Anneke and Cyrla are close, but Anneke's father is …
About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #110
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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Starred Review.Children's-book author Young (who, as Sara Pennypacker, penned the celebrated Stuart series) makes a stunning adult debut with this beautifully told and heart-wrenching novel set in WWII Europe. Cyrla, half-Jewish, is no longer safe hiding in the home of her Dutch relatives under the increasingly harsh Nazi occupation. When cousin Annika, whom Cyrla closely resembles, becomes pregnant by a German soldier, Annika's father enrolls her in a Lebensborn, a birthing center for Aryan children, where the slogan is Have one baby for the Führer. In a tragic turn of events, Cyrla discovers her only chance of survival is to hide in plain sight: she must assume Annika's identity and live in the German Lebensborn until rescued. Within the Lebensborn's walls, mothers-to-be receive proper nutrition and medical care until their children are taken from them for adoption into Aryan families The horrors Cyrla witnesses are softened only by her resounding optimism and strength.(Jan.)
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Details

ISBN-10: 0151015376 (hbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780151015375 (hbk.)
Author: Sara Young
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, War stories
Publisher: Harcourt
Date Published: January 14, 2008
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