Title: When the Heart Sings
Author: Liz Tolsma
Series: Music of Hope #2)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: October 9, 2018
About the Book:
Natia has a secret, and she’s hiding him right beneath her captor’s nose…
The Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their Polish farm to a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia is chosen to be the housekeeper for the camp’s overseer, and Teodor is sent to work in the factory. Despite the strict camp rules—and the consequences for disobeying them—Natia finds a way to communicate with Teodor by sending messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory.
The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer’s doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear— but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.
When the Heart Sings is an emotionally charged story that takes place during one of the darkest times in history. The world knows how terribly the Jews suffered, but what is less known is how there were other peoples targeted as well. Although it was different, the Polish people were hated and mistreated by the Nazi’s as well. This is a story to shed light on their plight.
What made the story even more captivating was that it was told by the perspective of both husband and wife as they are separated from each other. Their desperation to know that the other was still alive and their hope for a reunion was their driving force to persevere through their agony. Their love for each other was unquestionable. It affected how they responded to their circumstances, afraid of causing harm to the other. Natia was in Pan Fromm’s home as a maid while Teodor worked under him in the factory. Knowing the connection, Fromm often used it to his advantage to make matters worse for the couple.
Without giving away any details of the story, I really liked the progression of the relationship between Natia and Elfriede, who was Pan Fromm’s wife. Elfriede risked her own life by demanding her husband save Natia (a stranger at the time) from going to the camp by instead coming to stay in their home. Both women had suffered through fertility complications and miscarriages, and it formed a unique bond between them. Despite the language barriers, overtime they developed a real friendship. When the Jewish baby arrived, they both fell in love with him– although knowing he was Jewish Natia made sure she was the only one to change his diaper hoping for his best protection. Although under different circumstances, both women were trapped in their situations and hoped for a way out.
There was so much contained in this story but I don’t want to give too much away. I don’t want to hinder the emotional journey for you in any way, so I will simply say that I highly recommend it and hope you take the time to check it out. Although the lives of these characters are fictional, what they suffered was true of many Polish families during the war. This was an emotional journey, but well worth the read.
*I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriateness/Content Warnings:
As with many WWII stories, this one may be difficult for some readers to handle. There is the murder, torture, starvation, sickness etc that you would typically find in these types of books. This story also shares issues of fertility and miscarriage. My personal recommendation would be for ages 15 and up.