Author: Brianna Labuskes
Published by: William Morrow on Feb. 21, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Format: ARC, Paperback
Source: HarperCollins Canada
Book Rating: 8.5/10
Paris 1936. She may have escaped Berlin for Paris, but Hannah Brecht discovers the City of Light is no refuge from the anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathizers she thought she left behind. Heartbroken and tormented by the role she played in the betrayal that destroyed her family, Hannah throws herself into her work at the German Library of Burned Books. Through the quiet power of books, she believes she can help counter the tide of fascism she sees rising across Europe and atone for her mistakes. But when a dear friend decides actions will speak louder than words, Hannah must decide what stories she is willing to live–or die–for.
New York 1944. Since her husband Edward was killed fighting the Nazis, Vivian Childs has been waging her own war: preventing a powerful senator’s attempts to censor the Armed Service Editions, portable paperbacks that are shipped by the millions to soldiers overseas. Viv knows just how much they mean to the men through the letters she receives–including the last one she got from Edward. She also knows the only way to win this battle is to counter the senator’s propaganda with a story of her own–at the heart of which lies the reclusive and mysterious woman tending the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books in Brooklyn.
As Viv unknowingly brings her censorship fight crashing into the secrets of the recent past, the fates of these three women will converge, changing all of them forever.
Inspired by the true story of the Council of Books in Wartime–the WWII organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, and authors to use books as “weapons in the war of ideas”–The Librarian of Burned Books is an unforgettable historical novel, a haunting love story, and a testament to the beauty, power, and goodness of the written word.
Insightful, rich, and affecting!
The Librarian of Burned Books is an absorbing, intense tale set during prewar Berlin and Paris, as well as New York City during the latter part of WWII, that takes you into the lives of three women who all come from different backgrounds and with completely different motivations but whose worlds become uniquely connected and intertwined when they all find themselves working together to stop the censorship of books being sent to the troops fighting overseas.
The prose is polished and expressive. The characters are vulnerable, intriguing, and strong. And the plot is a compelling tale of life, loss, love, family, friendship, sacrifice, courage, secrets, deception, betrayal, oppression, resistance, and survival.
Overall, The Librarian of Burned Books is a well-written, vivid, informative tale by Labuskes inspired by real-life events that does an exceptional job of highlighting her considerable knowledge and impressive research into an organization that was determined to show the power and importance of the written word to uplift and provide hope in even the most horrific situations.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.