Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rachel And Aleks~By Sylvia Smoller

Rachel and her friend, Helena, are walking in the woods talking about boys in the beginning of this book. Helena tells Rachel that her friend Jakob is coming for a visit. Helena insists that Rachel must join then during the small get together. She goes, but everyone is talking about politics so Rachel stays silent. This intrigues Jakob. He walks her home every night until he must leave. Jakob promises to stay in touch through letters. In one of these letters, he asks for her hand in marriage. She declines by saying it should be Helena who is “at his side.” Jakob simply replies “You have deceived me.” They never communicate after that. Rachel suddenly finds herself falling for her tutor, but after he goes to Warsaw, she never hears from him again either. Rachel moves to Czestochowa to attend commercial school. She finally meets the famous Aleks Mischler, that Helena and her friends always talked about, at one of his lectures. Rachel and Aleks continue to run into each other in public. The two begin dating a few months later and Aleks’s sisters do not approve. After months of dating, Aleks asks Rachel to marry him. She says yes. After many months, the long awaited wedding day has arrived. Two of Aleks’s sisters had finally accepted her. The happy couple moves to Warsaw. Years later Rachel becomes pregnant and continues to work. Aleks’s sisters call her an embarrassment to the family. When their daughter, Rilka, is born, Rachel gets along with everyone including Aleks’s sister. When Aleks is accused of treason, the young family has yet another difficult time to go through. Rachel plans to visit her aunt, but has a hard time leaving Rilka. While in England, Rachel meets the man (Roman) who will soon become her lover. Rachel, who realizes taking a lover is a bad decision, goes home Aleks and Rilka. Rachel confides in Sophie (her sister) about her affair with Roman. When the Germans attack Poland, Aleks demands a car to escape. The family travels to Lithuania, Russia and Japan before departing for Seattle. From there, they settle in New York City. When Roman appears in New York, he threatens Rachel’s job. Roman puts Rachel in the difficult position of choosing between Aleks and himself.

This is a great coming of age story. I really enjoyed seeing Rachel mature before my eyes. Rachel and Aleks are such a lovable couple. If you are interested in the Holocaust (and enjoy romance novels), then this is a must read!

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