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Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite
Jean Joannis’ family has lived for generations in an ancient, small country tucked away in the corner of western Europe. Jean Joannis, son of Jean-Bernard and Marie Lachane, became the immigrant of the family and the first to be known as Bastarache dit Le Basque. He left a world of wars and incessant fighting but unfortunately sailed to a place that was an extension of it. A Will to Survive by Tom Gauthier is divided into six parts: the first follows Jean Joannis and the new life he makes for himself and his family in a new land. The second to the fifth parts detail Pierre and Michel's journey, descendants of the Bastarache line, as they seek to survive and return from exile while trying to find their way back to their families and homes. The final part tells the story of Charlemagne Bastarache, the narrator of the story, and how he became Charles Bascue.
A Will to Survive is detailed and well-researched. I found myself taken back in time because of the strong sense of historical elements present in every chapter. The book introduced me to the life of the family Bastarache dit le Basque and the struggles they faced in the 16th and 17th centuries. Reading this distinctive, proficient, and fascinating historical narrative has been an adventure. I appreciated the maps, illustrations, and pictures that added visuals to the tale. It made it easier to imagine the time period and the setting described in the story. I admired the strength and perseverance of the Bastarache family as they faced their adversities. I could learn a thing or two from their determination in the face of so many hardships. I could feel the author’s passion through every written word of the Bastarache family’s story. The narrative was well-organized, detailed, and engrossing. I had a hard time putting the book down! Tom Gauthier successfully delivers a rewarding experience for readers with this historical novel. Outstanding work!