A story set in Belgium during WWII... Hidden Yellow Stars by Rebecca Connolly (Review) #hiddenyellowstars #rebeccaconnolly #historicalfiction #wwIIfiction #inspirationalfiction #newbooks #booktwitter @ShadowMountn @AuthorRConnolly @ShadowMountn @Austenprose

Welcome to my tour stop! Read my review of this WWII story below ...

Hidden Yellow Stars
By Rebecca Connolly
Historical Fiction, WWII
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 304 Pages
March 5, 2024 by Shadow Mountain


Based on the true story of two World War II heroines who risked everything to save Jewish children from the Gestapo by hiding them throughout Belgium.

Belgium, 1942

Young schoolteacher Andrée Geulen secretly defies the Nazis in Belgium, who are forcing Jews to wear a yellow Star of David. Andrée is not Jewish, but she feels a maternal connection to her students, who are living in constant fear, and decides to take action. No child should have to suffer under such persecution. But what can one woman do against an entire army?

Ida Sterno is a Jewish woman who works with the Committee for the Defense of Jews in Belgium, a clandestine resistance group tasked with hiding children from the Gestapo. She wants to recruit Andrée because her Aryan appearance can provide crucial security measures for their efforts. Andrée agrees to join and begins work immediately by adopting a code name: Claude Fournier.

Together, Andrée and Ida, and their undercover operatives, work around the clock to move Jewish children from their families and smuggle them to safety through the secret channels established by the resistance. As each child is hidden, Andrée commits to memory their true name and history. Someday, she vows, she will help reunite as many of these families as she can.

But with the Gestapo closing in and the traitorous Fat Jacques who has turned from ally to enemy and is threatening to identify and expose any Jew he meets, Andrée and Ida must work even harder against increasingly impossible odds to save as many children as possible and keep them safely hidden—even if it might cost them their own lives.

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My Review

HIDDEN YELLOW STARS is about mainly two women who are both Jews, but one looks Aryan with blue eyes and blond hair, and the other looks Jewish with darker skin. They each find their own way of rebelling against the Nazis and saving their people by hiding away as many Jewish children as they can. It's a compelling story of friendship, faith and sacrifice amidst hardship, loss, violence and hate. Recommended to WWII historical fictions fans.

I liked Andrée and Ida from the beginning. They were easy to connect with and had fairly normal lives until the war came. They both were a bit blindsided with the continual atrocities they both heard about and saw as time went on. They each were trying to stay safe and make the best choices for themselves on the onset of the war. Then they did the best and most they could for as many Jewish children as they could save, sacrificing much. They were scared and faced loss and danger and yet, kept moving forward as well as they could in their circumstances. 

The story moves at a steady pace with a few places of climax. The middle does lull slightly, but picks back up the last third of the book. I liked that the story wasn't necessarily religiously based. Some characters have faith in God and some do not, and there are different religions represented. However, the focus of the story wasn't religion, but was the work of these women and those around them. Any faith aspect was weaved through these characters' lives naturally, making it feel authentic and realistic. The danger and suspense started from the beginning and weaved and flowed throughout. These characters were never fully safe, nor could they fully trust or let down their guard. They were constantly at risk of being searched and taken, and possibly risking the safety of the children and those who were hiding them. There were also some who misused or neglected the children, abusing the trust they were given. The story includes some terrible moments where children and families are taken, almost die, or were almost discovered. There were some other moments of interrogation, searches, people taken, torture, and some parts from inside a concentration camp. It's a rough situation and a heartbreaking story. However, it is also inspiring reading about those who did what they could and the lengths they went to for these children even though it put them in constant danger.

There were a few things I would have liked developed more or differently. One was that the internal dialogue was sometimes too dramatic for me. Another was that the internal dialogue was too lengthy and too leading whereas I would have liked to have drawn my own thoughts and conclusions instead of feeling like I was being told what to think. The POVs could have had more individual, distinctive voices as they sounded so similar that one was like the other and without the names would be hard to tell apart. I would have liked more weaved through on the Nazi group they worked for that was fronted as helping the Jews. It felt like it was mentioned and then didn't really play a role where that could have been a point of suspense or weaved through more if they had to work alongside Germans and Nazis while hiding that they were actually helping the children. There were some things that were mentioned in passing but never fully developed, like a picture that was taken, and then the story never says what else was on the roll or if she even checked it.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a heartfelt, inspiring story of two women who fought against the Nazis and helped Jewish families as best they could. A truly compelling story of sacrifice, resilience, strength, and care for others.

Content: Some violence including mistreatment of children and torture, but nothing extremely explicit.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Austenporse PR, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Rebecca Connolly is the author of more than two dozen novels. She calls herself a Midwest girl, having lived in Ohio and Indiana. She's always been a bookworm, and her grandma would send her books almost every month so she would never run out. Book Fairs were her carnival, and libraries are her happy place. She received a master's degree from West Virginia University.

While doing research for this book, she discovered information about her own family history, including the fates of several unknown family members who perished in the concentration camps of World War II.

Have you read any other WWII stories set in Belgium or by this author? What interests you about this one?

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