My Enemy's Cradle
Sara Young
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Buy *My Enemy's Cradle* by Sara Young online

My Enemy's Cradle
Sara Young
384 pages
January 2008
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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In 1941, threat is everywhere. Certainly in Poland, where Cyrla’s widowed father decides to send his daughter to her mother’s relatives in Holland. But even the small town of Schiedam is touched by the paranoia inherent in Hitler’s vision for Germany.

Cyrla is half-Jewish, her cousin Anneke careless of the secrets she shares with her German soldier boyfriend, Anneke’s father increasingly impatient and unwilling to shelter the girl from Poland. When Anneke announces she is pregnant, Cyrla realizes her safe place has been forever altered, but she cannot imagine how much.

Cyrla doesn’t like Anneke’s boyfriend, so when he is no longer around, she hopes to be a comfort to the pregnant girl. Neither anticipates Anneke’s father’s rage, or that he will coldly arrange for his daughter to be delivered to a Lebensborn, a German maternity home where unmarried girls are urged to contribute to the Master Race.

In the space of one afternoon, the world shifts on its axis, Cyrla taking Anneke’s place in the Lebensborn, her own baby barely showing, shrouded in its own dark beginnings. It feels like betrayal to take Anneke’s place, but Cyrla is terrified, desperate to escape her circumstances.

At the Lebensborn, the formerly naïve young woman learns the true horrors of war, the fanaticism and treachery that surround the Third Reich. Here every word, every action carries incalculable risk. Cyrla has no idea who to trust, who will betray, and how a hidden remembrance will expose her to terrible danger.

Waiting to hear from the father of her baby to be delivered from this unbearable ordeal, Cyrla waits impatiently, unsure what to think when there is no word; her baby grows larger by the month. As time runs out, Cyrla is faced with difficult decisions, revealed by one careless action.

In chilling detail, the author exposes the ugly underbelly of Hitler’s regime, Cyrla caught in a world where her identity will mean the destruction of her unborn child. That she should find love, even for a brief time, in such a place is extraordinary, for this is not a place where dreams survive.

From the paranoia of Anneke’s village to the harrowing hours when Cyrla assumes Anneke’s identity, the delivery rooms where the pure race is born, and the death camps where millions are annihilated, Cyrla is forced to face the unendurable: “You can’t walk around blind, just because you don’t want to see.”

In a deeply disturbing story, the author couches innocence and redemption in the drama of a young girl born to know both fear and courage, love and despair, played out against Hitler’s cunning experiment, the Lebensborn.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2008

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