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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Kurt Blorstad's historical fiction novel Occupied is based on the true story of the Blorstad family. The story is set in Norway from 1935 to 1945 based on Trygve Blorstad's real-life journals. In the novel, Trygve is the narrator. Olaf and Pauline Blorstad are part of the Norwegian community in the 1920s in Brooklyn, NY. Their sons Thoralf and Trygve are born in NY. In 1931 the family returns to Norway. Olaf returns to the US in 1936 with plans for the family to rejoin him later. Trygve is 7 at the time. Those plans fall apart at the onset of WWII in 1939. In the years that follow, Pauline and the children, Thoralf, Trygve, Odd, and Thelma, live in Vanse along the North Sea coast in southern Norway. In 1940, Norway and Vanse are occupied by the Germans. It's a time of separation and uncertainty for the family.
Kurt Blorstad's Occupied is a gripping story of a family's love, courage, and hope. I loved Trygve's vivid details about people, places, and events in Vanse; the farming community; the one-room schoolhouse; birthday and Christmas celebrations; the general store and nursery. The hill near the family home overlooks the North Sea and is a favorite spot for Trygve to relax. I liked the way Blorstad describes the war years in Vanse. In a very powerful and effective way, with everyday life as the background, Trygve tells of the dangers and challenges under German occupation. Stories of resistance, courage, and sacrifice emerge in a powerfully emotional way because they involve people and places that Trygve knows very well. A well-written and fascinating novel about a family and a community, about resilience and survival in a time of war.