My area of focus in getting my history degree was World War II. It is an incredibly difficult period of history to study, mostly because of the pure evil seeping from the Nazi regime. The Nazi party, under Adolf Hitler, controlled Germany from 1933 until the end of the War in 1945. During that time, their genocidal strategies killed millions upon millions of innocent citizens. We all know about the horrors of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but few people realize that the Nazis were out to eliminate anyone they considered to have “an inferior bloodline.” This included people with disabilities, like little Amelie, the namesake of Cathy Goelke’s novel Saving Amelie.
The novel begins in summer 1939, just before Hitler invades Poland to officially begin World War II. Rachel Kramer is traveling with her scientist father to Berlin, to complete some “work” her father has been engaged in. Rachel knows her father is involved in the science of eugenics, but is convinced his work is solely altruistic: trying to eradicate smallpox, and not in the abominable eugenics experiments of the Nazis in killing peoples who are not “perfect Aryans”.
While in Berlin, Rachel receives word from her estranged friend Kristine, who left the States to marry SS Officer Gerhardt Schlick, that Kristine’s daughter is in grave danger. Rachel does not believe Kristine at first, but later comes to realize that 4-year old Amelie’s deafness does, in fact, put her in danger. Not only from the eugenics movement that is sweeping Germany and causing anyone with a disability to be killed, but also from her father. Gerhardt Schlick is a ruthless man, and will not accept Amelie as his child because of her deafness. He would rather have her eliminated to maintain his image of being a perfect Aryan speciman. Rachel offers to help in any way she can, which leads her to American newspaperman Jason Young. Together, Jason and Rachel put their own safety on the line to help Amelie stay hidden from the Nazis. Jason meets famed historical figure Dietrich Bonhoeffer and learns more about Christianity. Throughout the book, Jason tries to show Rachel the same Christian faith he has learned, as Rachel learns more about her father and her personal history that causes her to doubt and lose hope.
This book really hit home for me, since in the book, Amelie is deaf, just like my own son is. The Nazis sought to eliminate her as “unworthy of life” because of her disability. I can’t help but look at my beautiful little boy and think that anyone would consider him “unworthy of life” just because his ears don’t work. The book is very well-written and the characters are strong and it was easy to imagine myself in the scenes. It was filled with action, adventure, drama, suspense, and a little bit of romance.
Bottom Line: 8.5*/10*
*I was provided a complimentary copy of Saving Amelie from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and have not been swayed in any way.