THE WARSAW ORPHAN by Kelly Rimmer

July 5, 2021

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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MAP OF THE HEART by Susan Wiggs

August 22, 2017

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This is a compelling read about families, heartbreak, World War II, secrets, bullying, but mostly love.

Camille Adams lives in a small seaside town in Delaware with her teenage daughter. Camille was widowed five years earlier when her husband died in a tragic accident, and really hasn’t gotten over it. She has become an obsessive worrier, sheltering her daughter to the point where she has to rebel and she does with almost devastating results.

Professor Malcolm Finnemore, Finn to everyone, studies old photographs and other evidence trying to find missing soldiers to return their remains home. His searches were sparked by his own father, whom he never met. His father was one of the many missing in action in Vietnam, and Finn has spent his life searching for him.

Camille is a photographer, but more than that, she can develop old film, often thought to be damaged beyond repair. When Finn sends her the last roll of film his father ever took, she accidentally ruins it when she has to rush to the emergency room for her daughter. He storms to her house and confronts her, and she feels terrible – they both do. A few hours later, he is back. Their attraction to one another is strong, and he asks for a do-over but he is returning to teach in the south of France, and she doesn’t want to get involved with anyone. But…

In another plot line, Camille’s father is from the south of France. He doesn’t discuss his childhood much other than it wasn’t always pleasant. Due to a series of events, he finally admits to her that his father was a Nazi sympathizer who was killed, and as a result, he was bullied until he left the small village. The story eventually moves back to the 1940’s and what happened in that village, and as they say, the plot thickens!

This was a very compelling read on both story lines. Wiggs excels at weaving a World War II story into a contemporary one. She did it beautifully in The Apple Orchard and The Beekeeper’s Ball, both excellent reads – as is this one. I loved it.

8/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MAP OF THE HEART by Susan Wiggs. William Morrow (August 22, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062425485. 368p.

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