The Book Club Hub – Holocaust Stories (Fiction)

Book clubs offer a great opportunity for friends and book lovers to gather (whether virtually or in person) to catch up and discuss a good book. There’s only two problems with this activity and they seem to come up at every meeting: what book should the group read next and how do you find enough copies for everyone?

TBPL is here to help with our Book Club in a Bag service. Each bag includes 10 paperback copies of the same book, discussion questions for your group to ponder, author information, and book reviews. With over 200 different titles available, there is bound to be one that is the perfect next read for your group.

Visit our online catalogue to place holds on book club bags as well as individual copies of any of the books mentioned below. If you’re looking to view all of the book club bags available, simply click the link and search “book club bag”. Any library patron can place a hold on a bag for pick up at any of our open branches. These bags are loaned out for 8 weeks, which gives you and your book club plenty of time to read and discuss.

Every month, a new set of book club titles will be highlighted in The Book Club Hub post. This month features fictional novels set during the Holocaust. The Thunder Bay Museum is hosting an exhibit titled “And in 1948 I Came to Canada: The Holocaust in Six Dates” which raises awareness about the genocide of the Jews by presenting its history and reflecting on the  impacts of racism and discrimination in our society. There have been countless historical fiction novels that are set during the Holocaust to inform and shine a new perspective on the stories of those who suffered unfathomable trauma during this time. Here are this month’s selections:

The Family Tabor – Cherise Wolas

Harry Tabor is about to be named Man of the Decade, a distinction that feels like the culmination of a life well lived. Gathering together in Palm Springs for the celebration are his wife, Roma, a distinguished child psychologist, and their children: Phoebe, a high-powered attorney; Camille, a brilliant social anthropologist; and Simon, a big-firm lawyer, who brings his glamorous wife and two young daughters.

But immediately, cracks begin to appear in this smooth facade: Simon hasn’t been sleeping through the night, Camille can’t decide what to do with her life, and Phoebe is a little too cagey about her new boyfriend. Roma knows her children are hiding things. What she doesn’t know, what none of them know, is that Harry is suddenly haunted by the long-buried secret that drove him, decades ago, to relocate his young family to the California desert. As the ceremony nears, the family members are forced to confront the falsehoods upon which their lives are built.

Set over the course of a single weekend, and deftly alternating between the five Tabors, this provocative, gorgeously rendered novel reckons with the nature of the stories we tell ourselves and our family and the price we pay for second chances.

__________

Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

_______

The Orphan’s Tale – Pam Jenoff

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival.

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep. When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another – or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

________

The Paris Architect – Charles Belfoure

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn’t really believe in. Ultimately he can’t resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.

_____________

These stories, while fictional, help readers learn more about this tragic point in history and see different perspectives and experiences some may have had during the Holocaust. The exhibit runs at the Thunder Bay Museum from April 11th to July 24th, 2022.

Not in a book club? No problem! These books are also available as single copies in our online catalogue.

Book descriptions via GoodReads

Lindsay – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you

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