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Reviewed by Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
I found Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke to be a highly absorbing and mesmerizing novel. It is set in Germany in 1939, just as the Nazis are preparing to invade Poland. Rachel Kramer has traveled from the USA with her adoptive father to Germany for her periodic medical examination. The father is a scientist who studies genetics and he has multiple appointments with German scientists who seemingly share the same interests. But, when Rachel receives a hurried note, the dynamics of the story change dramatically. Rachel's friend Kristine fears for her own life as well as the life of her young, deaf daughter Amelie. In fact, when Rachel learns of her father's apparent participation in the plot to rid the Aryan race of misfits and handicapped individuals, she feels she must somehow save the child and escape what appears to be a hideous plan to involve her as well.
Author Cathy Gohlke has done a marvellous job of conceptualizing her characters in Saving Amelie. There is little doubt that any reader will be drawn into the story within the first two chapters. The historical research is top notch and what Gohlke does with the personalities of her characters is nothing short of brilliant. News reporter Jason Young literally grows up to face the reality of the Nazi takeovers. A family in the small town of Oberammergau in Bavaria epitomizes the depth of human understanding and compassion. And the German SS officer Schlick plays a disturbing role which will convince the most disbelieving reader. The events portrayed are difficult to comprehend and yet the reality of the story is spell-binding.