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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Baker's Daughter- TLC Tour Book Review




What 'The Baker's Daughter' is about:


In 1945, Elsie Schmidt was a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she was for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.
Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancĂ©, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines can often be blurred.
Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the
uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.


First thoughts after finishing: "What an emotional powerhouse!"

I love books that make me weep with sadness and feel such empathy to the characters...this book does that and so much more. I cracked the spine of The Baker's Daughter late in the morning on Saturday and finished it as the sun peeked over the horizon announcing the arrival of Sunday. I was so thankful that I was the only one awake during those first early hours because I was able to be alone with my thoughts after I finished the book. The last quarter of the book had left me with tears streaming down my face and once again realizing that we can NOT judge others....it's not our place. What struck me with such force was something that the main protagonist said when asked if she was a Nazi. She replied, "I am a German." I think that over the years, the general public has lumped being German into automatically assuming they were all Nazi's too. Instead, this book brings to light how many of them became compliant to Hitler's propaganda and laws because of FEAR. Fear of death to self, fear of the death of loved ones, and fear of the death of their way of life. I learned about the Lebensborn Program and couldn't believe the atrocities that were committed against the German mothers and the children the women gave birth to. The author made me feel some sadness about Josef, a SS Officer. This character was someone who had supervised the murder of thousands of Jews and fellow Germans, but Sarah McCoy humanized him and showed the inner demons that he carried within his black soul. She showed the other side of the war...the German side. She didn't make excuses for any of their behaviors, but rather gave the reader an insider's view of what happens when a human is trapped and feels as if they have no options. Elsie is a character that I loved from the moment I met her and she's one that I think may have embodied many unspoken heroic acts of Germans. She hides an emaciated Jewish boy, gives him shelter, food, attention, and love. She is what it means to be human in the face of war. She is what humans try to aspire to when given no options but death or doing something against their moral fiber. Even knowing that death may be her ending, it doesn't stop her from loving and protecting this child. Her story will stay with me...I have her tucked under my heart.

I loved everything about the bakery in Germany and the bakery in Texas. The aroma of baking bread, cakes, and cookies says comfort and home to me. I'm sure that is how Elsie felt when she was busy with the daily chores of making the baked goods. This was a beautiful thread throughout the book and really helped to connect the past with the present. The recipes at the end of the book are calling my name!

I have to admit that Reba's story really didn't do much for me at all. I liked how the past influenced the future and the way the author tried to tie the two stories together. But overall I'm not really sure if Reba/Riki's storyline added to my overall enjoyment of the book. I was more than happy to stay in the past and learn more about Elsie's life and what eventually happened to the people she loved.


Recommend? I would give this book to anyone who is looking for a story that will touch them on a very human level. This is a tale of love, choices, hardship, heartache, and hope. It puts another face on the ravages of war and makes a person stop and contemplate  a very big and heavy question.....What Would You Do?

Source: TLC Book Tours and The Crown Publishing Group
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 292
Published:  January, 2012

Disclaimer:Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me a review copy. I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel.




Review Book #5
© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.
 


SARAH McCOY is author of the novel, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. The daughter of an Army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. She calls Virginia home but presently lives with her husband and dog, Gilbert, in El Paso, Texas. The Baker’s Daughter is her second novel. She is currently working on her next.

39 comments:

  1. I have this book to read and I am getting more excited with every review that I read!

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    1. I think you will really enjoy this one, Marg!

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  2. I'm really looking forward to reading this one.

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  3. Adding to my list! This sounds AMAZING!

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  4. I love books that pack an emotional punch!

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  5. Sounds amazing, and such an important story.

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  6. I look forward to reading it as well! And I love when authors include recipes from the story!

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  7. Wow, I bought this last week because I just love Sarah - it sounds like I'm going to love the book too!

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    1. I am so jealous of your location, Kathy!! I bought her first book immediately after reading this one!

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  8. I just finished it and loved it too!

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    1. Wasn't it great???!! BTW..I can't wait for your next release!

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  9. I've been wanting to read this since I first heard about it. Now even more so, great review.

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  10. Wow. This one sounds amazing. Great honest review, Staci!

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  11. What would you do?..well that is certainly a big question. I am sure it would make me wonder

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    1. Wouldn't it though? We all "think" we know what we would do but it's easy to say that from the safety and comfort of our homes.

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  12. I've welled-up while reading a book, but I don't think the tears actually cascaded down my face like they did with you here. Wow!! Must have been an emotional read!

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    1. I am an emotional reader...big time!

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  13. Staci!
    This review made ME weepy! You pinned the heart of this book. A lovely, honest, and insightful review... "finished it as the sun peeked over the horizon announcing the arrival of Sunday." Oh, that is the most beautiful setting to read and finish a book. You are a kindred. I am certain. Thank you. I'm thrilled the book moved you in such a wonderful way!

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    1. I am thrilled that I loved it too! I thought it was amazing and then I had to ask myself why I haven't read your first book. So I bought it immediately!

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  14. I'm interested in this time period too. There aren't many stories about just plain Germans, at least not that I'm aware. I'm looking forward to reading this one.

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  15. sounds exceptional--I love books that touch me like that.

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  16. Your review has me convinced I would be nust to miss reading this book. I felt how this book touched you!

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  17. I love it when a book makes me think about what I would do. This sounds like an eye-opening read. I have it on my wish list and hopefully will get to it one day. I have seen so many great reviews for it. I really enjoyed your review. I can feel how much this book touched you.

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  18. This is on my TBR list because I've only read very encouraging words about it. I'm looking forward to it!

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  19. This sounds like an amazing read! You did an awesome job on making me want to read it that much more...I'm convinced!

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  20. Wow! If that doesn't put the book in people's hands, I don't know what will! I know I'm going to get it and try to talk my book club into reading it as well.

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  21. I am glad you liked this. I have it on my wish list to read at some point!

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  22. So glad to see you enjoyed this book! I actually liked Reba's story, though Elsie's was more interesting. It was one of the few books I found where mixing the past and the present worked for me.

    It really does make you think about what you would do in that situation. My mom was born in Germany after the war and moved to the U.S. when she was three. That was 1956. When she started school, she says one of her teachers said to her, "Well you certainly aren't blond and blue-eyed." She spent much of her growing up years telling people that she can't be a Nazi because she wasn't even born when the Nazis were in power.

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    1. What an amazing insight into what was still going on in 1956!!!

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  23. I so want to read this. Wonderful, wonderful review, Staci.

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  24. I've been seeing this one around but yours is the first review I made it all the way through. The fact that you read it in a day speaks volumes.

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    1. wow! I'm honored that you made it all the way through my review!!!! Thanks!

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  25. Sounds like an excellent book!

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  26. Wow ... just, wow. What an amazing recommendation! I love books set in this time period, but now I REALLY want to get my hands on a copy asap.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm thrilled that this book was such a great one for you.

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  27. How is it possible that I am just hearing about this book? It sounds wonderful! You did a marvelous job with your review. When you said that you liked Elsie's story more than Reba's, it reminded me of my reaction when I read Sarah's Key. I'm guess the present story is used as a literary device to take the reader back in time, but I wonder why it's necessary. I'd be just as happy reading a novel with just the historical story.

    I see that the author and I both have ties to Texas and Virginia. We lived in the Fort Worth area for a few years and my daughter lives in Dallas. Our other daughter graduated from ODU (where the author taught English) in 2005. I wonder if she had any classes with McCoy.

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    1. I love this literary device but I almost always find myself connecting with the older characters. I wonder why that is?????

      I would love to find out if your daughter had McCoy as a professor!

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