The blog tour is finally here for Brothers-in-Arms! Today, I have a review for it – yay! – and an interview with Jack herself.
Release Date: May 31st
Can a Jew and a Nazi survive Hitler’s Germany?
Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first-hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high.
With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they’ve always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet’s heritage a secret. Taking his best friend’s safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.
With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can’t be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.
I read Brothers-in-Arms a few months ago.
All I can say is…WOW.
Some books are good books. Four-star books that make you say, “Oh, that’s nice,” as you read them once and decide they were pleasant.
There are also some books that are great books, ones that make you want to read them sometime again probably, or at least put them on your bookshelf and pet them as you walk by, remembering the fond memories that went along with reading them.
Other books are ones that make your stomach hurt from laughing so hard, shake with sobs until your eyes are dripping and puffy, and demand that all the attention in your mind be given to that book. The ones that are so clever and excruciating and real that you physically feel pain and are distraught over the lives of the characters.
Yeah, that was one of those stories.
It was heartbreaking – so much death and torture and heartache and agony – and it was beautiful. Oh, so beautiful.
I read all four-hundred-ish pages in about three or four days, which is fast for me, seeing as I like to soak in every word and I don’t have much spare time anyway.
It’s hard to say that this was a “wonderful” book – it was, and it wasn’t.
The dialogue was witty and hilarious and clever and fantastic. The writing was spectacular, and portrayed the story ridiculously well.
The characters were four-dimensional, and even though there were many of them, they were executed quite well. (Get it? Executed? Ha ha…never mind.)
The worldbuilding was done well too, though not completely what I expected from reading other WWII books, but still, I enjoyed it immensely.
But the story killed me. I have no words to describe the way it made me feel. It wasn’t a “God is good, everything’s gonna be alright,” kind of story, by any stretch.
It was more of a “I have no idea if we’ll even survive this,” kind of story. It’s about real pain and even getting to the point of seriously doubting God when it gets too hard to breathe. It’s about friendship, brotherly love, coming to a place of learning to trust God, even when life’s a nightmare, and about not giving up hope.
The story hurt my heart. It drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. Many parts were hard to read; not that they were really gory, but that they touched my emotions quite deeply, both happy ones and depressed ones.
This book has made it onto my favorites list. It’s beautiful, poignant historical fiction, and a book that really opened my eyes to what happened during WWII, from both the Jewish side and the Nazi side.
Thank you, Jack, for writing this story.
Jack is one of those strange people who calls herself an Author. She spends a lot of her time writing and even less time editing. She likes to write about friendships which is partly how Brothers-in-Arms came to be. More than ten years in the making, this is the book she dreaded the most writing, but which also has the most meaning for her.
When Jack isn’t writing, which doesn’t happen too often, she keeps busy with various other hobbies – such as reading, playing the bagpipes to the dread of her neighbors, and drinking tea – which might not be considered a hobby by most but which should be.
She lives in a cabin in the woods with her dog and a library which isn’t quite equal to Prince Adam’s but will be given enough time and a secret doorway.
I had the wonderful chance to interview her, so here are my questions (in bold) and her responses. She’s a very sweet person, and one I’ve been absolutely blessed to converse with.
Hello, Jack! Welcome to Scattered Journal Pages. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and about your name?
Thanks for letting me invade! I mean…visit. Not invade. I don’t invade places…. *Puts away the siege engines* Ahem… A little bit about me. Hm. I’m sometimes called Jack by people who know me online or know the reason behind the name and think it is cute. (And since you asked, the short version of my name is a result of an online writing club I started where everyone who joined picked the name of their favorite Author. I picked C.S. Lewis, who was called Jack by his friends. Hence, Jack Lewis. Baillot was shamelessly stolen from one of my all time favorite history heroes.) I’m what can be called an Author. Which means I sit locked up in my room and drink lots of tea while hanging out with people no one else can see – at least until said someone’s read my books.
How long ago did you get the inspiration for Brothers-in-Arms, and how old were you?
About ten years ago…or longer. I was about sixteen I think. I was wittle…but not really. I stopped growing when I was about fifteen. ANYWAYS….let’s say sixteen, which is more than ten years. Twelve to be exact. You may do the math to get my now age.
What has been the best experience for you so far as you work with a publisher (as opposed to self-publishing)?
I got an editor. And I didn’t have to do the cover on my own, which meant no wielding weapons in the middle of the street while my family stood watch to shout when to get out of the road before a car hit us. (I have an obliging family.)
But mostly the editor. With my dyslexia I have a long running battle with editing. It was nice to let someone else fight it for me.
How has your faith affected your books, namely, this new one?
This needs a serious answer.
My faith affects all my books, but not nearly as much as this one. I don’t write “Christian” books per se. I write a story and let God do the rest. But this story has a very clear message. All of my books have messages, but none as clear as this one.
I’ve been struggling with a lot lately, especially the past two years. In a way, a lot of my struggles went into this book, and my belief which kept me going. It is kind of hard to explain and I might have to do a post on it someday.
This story isn’t mine. It is far from being my story, but in a way it is my story. It’s complicated, but this book means a lot to me. More than any of my other books do or ever will.
What is your target audience for Brothers-in-Arms, and what message do you hope to share through it?
Everyone. Well, an older age group, but I didn’t want to write a book just for Christians. I also didn’t want to write a book which tried to slyly witness to non-believers without them knowing it. I wanted to write a story about the struggle of the German people in WWII. The message in it is there because I felt it fit with the story and it just worked. As I wrote the message just came out, but I didn’t set out to write a message about trust for God in the darkest times in our lives.
So, while it isn’t written for just a certain group, I do hope that message might encourage those who read it.
What is your biggest dream right now? (It doesn’t have to be realistic!)
I actually have a lot. I’m a dreamer of impossible dreams, to steal another Doctor Who line. I get these rash ideas in my head, almost impossible ideas, and chase them down. Like writing with dyslexia. Once I get an idea I don’t like to let things stop me, probably a result of stubbornness.
But my top dreams…
Go on an adventure. I’m plotting one for this summer. I haven’t decided what it will be yet, but it will be glorious and hopefully won’t involve awkward nude beaches like my last adventure. (For this interested in that adventure which also involved Owl City, the post is on my blog if you wish to hunt it down.)
Who has inspired you, whether in writing or otherwise?
C.S. Lewis. I think he had an understanding of children most don’t have and don’t understand.
Louis Zamperini, who is a man I consider my hero. A WWII POW who survived the near impossible, came home and struggled with PTSD, and then gave his life to God. He also had a remarkable sense of humor and did crazy things like skateboard in his eighties. He inspires me in life, Lewis in my writing.
What advice would you give to people wanting to achieve their dreams?
This is going to sound silly, but don’t let things get in your way. I don’t mean go rushing off in rebellion to those in authority over you, but I mean don’t give up. It will be hard to accomplish your dreams, but I believe people can do things which could be considered impossible.
After all, I’m a dyslexic Author.
Don’t give up because things are hard. You can do quite a number of impossible things if you work hard enough.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! My readers and I are privileged to know a little more about you.