Staring at the end of a Nazi gun barrel, Hadassah Benjamin knows two things. She is about to die, and God has abandoned her. At that moment, Colonel Aric von Schmidt steps in. Having stumbled across her false identity, the SS Kommandant believes an error has occurred and takes her to his house at the Theresienstadt transit camp to serve as his secretary.
Hadassah now faces a new kind of hell. In order to survive and maintain her cover as Stella Mueller, she must sit by and watch while her own people are sent by the train load to Auschwitz. Amidst the rubble of war-torn Czechoslovakia, in a time when hatred and fear run as thick as blood, new and unexpected feelings start to blossom toward her employer. As Hadassah catches glimpses of the man behind the uniform, she discovers a side which completely contradicts his Nazi persona.
With the Allies gaining ground, the Nazis scramble to clean house. This includes hiding any proof of the atrocities committed in the camp while sending more Jews to die. Trapped by her survival instincts and the desire to save her people, Hadassah is forced to reevaluate her priorities and the faith her forefathers clung to but she has rejected.
Kate Breslin’s debut novel, For Such a Time, is a haunting and breathtaking story of finding hope, love, and redemption even in the darkest of places. Compelling characters and strong writing place the reader smack dab in the middle of the plot. The author manages to convey the horrifying and devastating cruelty endured by the Jewish people while not becoming explicit or gruesome, ensuring that both adult and teen readers can enjoy this novel.
I especially liked how Breslin didn’t present For Such a Time as the actual story of Esther, rather as what it might have looked like had similar events occurred during WWII. This book is a story in its own right. Therefore, the deviations from the Biblical account didn’t bother me as they often have in the past when authors take too many liberties, changing well-known facts, and still try to pass them off as plausible scenarios of the historical event.
Aric and Hadassah are both loveable and intriguing characters that captivate the reader’s heart. Stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Hadassah’s plight is gut-wrenching as she struggles with the knowledge that her silence means the annihilation of her people, yet speaking up guarantees her own death. I strongly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance, or the story of Esther.
Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!