About the Book
Book: Children of the Stars
Author: Mario Escobar
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 25, 2020
From international bestseller Mario Escobar comes a story of escape, sacrifice, and hope amid the perils of the second World War.
Jacob and Moses Stein live with their aunt in Paris until the great raid against foreign Jews is unleashed in August 1942. Their parents, well-known German playwrights, have been hiding in France, but before their aunt manages to send them south, the gendarmes stop the boys and take them to the Velodromo de Invierno, where more than 4,000 children, 5,000 women, and 3,000 men had to subsist without food or water. Jacob and Moses manage to flee, but the road will not be safe or easy.
This novel by internationally bestselling author Mario Escobar follows two brave young Jewish boys as they seek refuge in the French town of Le-Chambon-sur-Lignon and eventually Argentina.
About the Author
Mario Escobar is a Spanish writer of historical fiction, including the bestselling Auschwitz Lullaby. Passionate about history and its mysteries, Escobar has delved into the depths of church history, the different sectarian groups that have struggled therein, and the discovery and colonization of the Americas. He specializes in the lives of unorthodox Spaniards and Americans.
Of the many stories that have ever been told, or that will be told, stories of World War II and all the atrocities associated are some of the most important ever. The reign of terror that Hitler and his Nazis inflicted upon millions of innocent men, women, and children should never be taken for granted or be forgotten. Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar is one such novel that tells the harrowing story of Jacob and his brother Moses who together embark on the wildest odyssey across occupied France during the 1940s in search of their parents. This novel is filled with twists and turns, and just when you think the boys are on the right track heartbreak and disappointment ensue. Children of the Stars is an adventure story I won’t soon forget.
While there is a lot of action in this novel, I struggled with this story. I found the pacing to be incredibly slow. In fact, this book took me ten days to read. Yes, ten days! I’ve been struggling to figure out why I had such a difficult time reading this story, and I really think it boils down to one thing — believability. I do not for one second believe that an 11-year old and an 8-year old are capable of doing half the stuff Jacob and Moses do in Children of the Stars. And, their internal monologues seem that of men, not scared, little boys. For example, at one point Jacob, who is 11, makes this astute observation: Valence was more like the country his parents had fallen in love with and where they had hoped to make a fresh start and which, since the arrival of the Nazis with their threats and lies, had become gray and prosaic, like an endless, monotonous silent film. I’m sorry, but show me an 11-year old who can make this observation and use prosaic and monotonous correctly in a sentence. Perhaps French kids in the 1940s who had been abandoned by their parents and who were actively escaping the Nazis did think and speak at such an advanced level, but I just couldn’t buy it. The intense fear from trying to constantly be two steps ahead of the Nazis alone would make even the smartest 11-year old think and react as a child naturally would. Don’t get me wrong. I know kids can rise above and often take on adult-like roles when they shouldn’t have to, but in this novel, it is just TOO much and so unbelievable.
I did appreciate the many timely themes that Escobar presents. There is a lot to mentally chew on. My most favorite food-for-thought came when two French police arrive at a woman’s house to search it for hidden Jews. The homeowner offers the two men coffee, and in a fit of guilt, one of the police officers tells the woman, “Don’t think it’s easy for us to go after innocent people. Most of them are children, or mothers and elderly folk. It breaks our hearts to arrest them, but it’s our duty.” The woman tells this man, “We must always act according to our conscience, no matter our occupation.” I love this response! I would like to believe that if I were in the cop’s shoes I would have done something noble like create an underground resistance and thwart the Nazis at every turn. I’m not cool enough to be that fearless and smart under such scary circumstances, but I pray that in a situation like this I would choose to do what honors God more than what honors men.
While I did appreciate the many thought-provoking themes and wise tidbits that occur often in this novel, the unbelievability of Jacob’s and Moses’s characters made Children of the Stars a novel I could set down. In the end, I just could not suspend my disbelief enough to accept that an 11-year old and an 8-year old could traverse all of France and Spain escaping Nazis with little experience, know-how, or resources. Even in 1942, kids were kids.
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.