I picked this book up at the library, and I had no idea until I finished it and read the author blurb at the back that Sara Young is Sara Pennypacker, author of the Clementine books. My Enemy’s Cradle is nothing like Clementine, aside from the fact that a talented author is responsible for both the light-hearted Clementine series for kids and this serious WW II adult novel.
Cyrla is beautiful Anneke’s half-Dutch, half Jewish cousin from Poland. When Anneke becomes pregnant, and her boyfriend, a Nazi soldier, refuses to take responsibility for the baby, she seems to have no choice but to apply for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls who are giving birth to German, Aryan babies to fuel the Nazi war machine.
However, Anneke does have choices, and when she makes a tragic one, Cyrla must decide what to do next, how to protect herself, and how to protect her family. Cyrla takes her cousin’s place in the Lebensborn, probably the most dangerous place in German controlled territory for a half-Jewish girl with even more secrets than that of her heritage. The question is whether she can escape before the Germans find out who she really is, and can she trust anyone to help her?
Unlike the Spanish Civil War/World War II book I read earlier this week, My Enemy’s Cradle has a happy ending. Although the characters in the novel suffer terribly, there is an optimistic thread that runs through the novel to the very end. Cyrla is a true heroine, although young and naive at the beginning of the book. Because Cyrla is just a teenager dealing with very adult decisions, I think My Enemy’s Cradle would be perfect for older teens as well as adults, although there is some sexual content, not too graphic.
Really good stuff. Suspenseful and surprising and recommended.