cover image The Warsaw Sisters: A Novel of WWII Poland

The Warsaw Sisters: A Novel of WWII Poland

Amanda Barratt. Revell, $17.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-8007-4171-6

In this earnest yet undercooked historical from Barratt (Within These Walls of Sorrow), Polish sisters find their way into the anti-Nazi resistance movement even as the war threatens to pry them apart. It’s the eve of the 1939 Nazi invasion of Poland when Antonina and Helena Dąbrowska’s father leaves to serve in the military, promising to return home soon. But with the arrival of the Germans, the sisters’ lives crumble: the family’s home is flattened in the bombings, and the girls’ aunt is executed. What’s more, the two begin drifting apart as Helena starts working as a secretary for a German official and Antonia joins resistance efforts to smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, forcing her to vacate the apartment the sisters share due to fears that Helena’s associations may compromise her mission. Though Helena is later driven by a “love of [her] homeland” to join a separate resistance cell, it may be nearly impossible for the sisters to restore their closeness, and doing so will require a faith that’s been all but extinguished by the atrocities of war (“I had stopped believing God listened, and if He did, it would not be to me,” Antonina muses). The story suffers from a lack of realism—Antonina slips in and out of the ghetto near-frictionlessly, and Helena somehow avoids arrest by slapping a German policeman across the face. Still, the poignantly rendered relationship between the sisters is a saving grace. This has heart. (Nov.)