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Karolina's Twins Bets On...

Karolina's Twins

September 2016

I have been a fan of Ronald H. Balson’s books since I read ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS a few years ago, which I also selected as a Bets On title. In KAROLINA’S TWINS, Balson’s fiction once again looks at a story with its roots in the Holocaust and World War II. Lena Scheinman lived in Chrzanów, Poland, near the Czech border. Her warm family lives a happy life; her father has a successful business, and he is a respected war hero. Her best friend, Karolina Neuman, lives in circumstances not as fortunate as Lena’s, so she spends a lot of time at the Scheinman home.

Lena’s family is swept from their home as Germany invades Poland, and she is the sole survivor. She scrapes together an existence in the ghetto finding work in a textile factory where the labor is brutal, but she is safe. She is reunited with Karolina there, and the two of them forge a partnership to work together to survive. While the factory work is difficult, it affords them the luxury of being saved from the atrocities of the camps. Their partnership is challenged as Karolina finds herself pregnant. Shortly after the babies are delivered, Lena and Karolina, along with another close friend, are ordered onto trains to the camps. On the way to Auschwitz, Karolina decides that they must toss the babies from the train, as they will have no chance of surviving in the camps. Aghast, but aware she is right, Lena complies.

As the book opens, Lena wants to hire attorney Catherine Lockhart and private investigator Liam Taggart (who readers may remember from both ONCE WE WERE BROTHERS and SAVING SOPHIE) to help find the twins, who were last seen 70 years ago in Poland. Lena’s efforts are questioned by her son, Arthur, who feels that his mother is not mentally competent enough even to be telling a true story, let alone to track down the twins. Catherine and Liam see the merit in her tale and take on the case, tracing every lead to find this mysterious pair.

Karolina lays out her story methodically, drawing readers in deeper and deeper with every page turn. I think that Catherine and Liam’s personal story gets a tad clichéd towards the end, but I forgave it as the rest of the book worked so well.

It’s great for book groups, and I highly recommend that after you enjoy KAROLINA’S TWINS, you explore Balson’s other work. Please note, though, that at times he is a bt more preachy than one might want, especially in SAVING SOPHIE. There were pages about the Middle East there that read more like a history book than a novel. That said, he did his research!

Karolina's Twins
by Ronald H. Balson

  • Publication Date: August 15, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250089042
  • ISBN-13: 9781250089045