THE WARSAW ORPHAN by Kelly Rimmer

From the publisher:

Inspired by the real-life heroine who saved thousands of Jewish children during WWII, The Warsaw Orphan is Kelly Rimmer’s most anticipated novel since her bestselling sensation, The Things We Cannot Say.

“Gripping… This one easily stands on its own.” —Publishers Weekly
“Heart-stopping.” – Lisa Wingate, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
“A surefire hit.” – Kristin Harmel, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

In the spring of 1942, young Elzbieta Rabinek is aware of the swiftly growing discord just beyond the courtyard of her comfortable Warsaw home. She has no fondness for the Germans who patrol her streets and impose their curfews, but has never given much thought to what goes on behind the walls that contain her Jewish neighbors. She knows all too well about German brutality–and that it’s the reason she must conceal her true identity. But in befriending Sara, a nurse who shares her apartment floor, Elzbieta makes a discovery that propels her into a dangerous world of deception and heroism.

Using Sara’s credentials to smuggle children out of the ghetto brings Elzbieta face-to-face with the reality of the war behind its walls, and to the plight of the Gorka family, who must make the impossible decision to give up their newborn daughter or watch her starve. For Roman Gorka, this final injustice stirs him to rebellion with a zeal not even his newfound love for Elzbieta can suppress. But his recklessness brings unwanted attention to Sara’s cause, unwittingly putting Elzbieta and her family in harm’s way until one violent act threatens to destroy their chance at freedom forever. 

From Nazi occupation to the threat of a communist regime, The Warsaw Orphan is the unforgettable story of Elzbieta and Roman’s perilous attempt to reclaim the love and life they once knew.


To term Kelly Rimmer’s novel, “The Warsaw Orphan,” an emotional rollercoaster is both the truth and yet not sufficient a description to bring the prospective reader into the horrid world of Nazi oppression of Jews during World War II. The story is loosely based on the real life activities of the nurse Irena Sendler who managed to smuggle thousands of Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation with its organized murder of Jews and other “undesirables”     

Two teenagers are the central characters of the story. Roman Gorka and Elzbieta Rabinek are dragged brutally out of any semblance of a normal childhood and hauled kicking and screaming into a life based on survival and terror during World War II. They come together in the Warsaw Ghetto and take part in the world shattering events that characterized Poland subjected to their Nazi conquerors. Roman joins a resistance group with the intent of fighting back against the Nazi oppression that exists while Elzbieta follows the actions of a friend that lives near her and uses that woman’s credentials to smuggle children away from Nazi oppression.      

The two teens develop a love for each other but in the face of the oppression existing in their world cannot follow their hearts to be with each other. Roman takes part in the uprising that took place in Warsaw against the Nazi invaders and was surprisingly successful in terms of time held out. Elzbieta continues to use her “borrowed” credentials to bring more children to freedom. Between their obligations there is no time to develop a  bond that would normally lead to marriage and family with each taking part in events that are not under their control.     

In an afterward to the book, Rimmer confesses to the difficulty in writing about the strains undergone by the central figures she depicts. No surprise there; her handling of the raw emotion experienced by the people she writes about is an almost impossible handling of something never normally experienced. Her characters must face decisions daily of reacting to events that no group had faced before them and somehow evolve into a semblance of a normal life.   

The Warsaw Orphan is not a book that will be forgotten easily. The characters are brought to life by the five star handling by the author and the raw emotions generated hit home under her excellent prose. An all nighter of course. Once started the novel cannot be put down until finished and Kelly Rimmer passing into a favorite author position. If the reader has not read any of her other books prior to this one you can be sure that will not be the case with anything she comes out with in the future. My final comment is simply that I feel privileged to have been introduced to Kelly Rimmer and am now an ardent reader of her books.

7/2021 Paul Lane

THE WARSAW ORPHAN by Kelly Rimmer. Graydon House; Original edition (June 1, 2021). ISBN: 978-1525895999. 416 pages.

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