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Elsie is a baker’s daughter in 1945 Germany. Her family is somewhat sheltered from the realities of the war by her older sister’s participation in the Nazi Lebensborn (breeding) program, and the attentions of a Nazi official. When a Jewish boy follows Elsie home and asks for shelter, she must decide whether to continue being her family’s daughter, or if she should choose for herself what is right.

In modern day Texas, Reba meets Elsie, now a bakery owner with a daughter of her own. Reba discovers that the seemingly simple task of interviewing Elsie for a newspaper article opens a floodgate of emotions for both herself and Elsie. Together, the two women reveal pieces of their own stories to each other, and find a way to make peace with the past and the present.

Told in alternating points of view from young Elsie and present day Reba, this novel is hard to put down. While not quite as suspenseful as Sarah’s Key, the story is well-written, and the characters struggle with similar issues of right, wrong and what we can and should do about it.

A fantastic story that completely satisfied my love of pioneer fiction.  This is a novel, inspired by Turner’s family memoirs, full of romance and humor, tragedy and violence.  Sarah is a strong heroine who struggles to carve a life for herself and her family in the Arizona Territories.  The story is told entirely through Sarah’s journal, and through her writing, we see her grow from a young, impulsive teenager to a loving wife and mother.  One of my favorite passages:

Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule.  Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.

I just discovered 2 sequels and can’t wait to read them!