Emily reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge. It finaled in the Inspirational category.
Plot Summary: In Brussels at the height of WWI, a small, underground newspaper is the only thing offering the occupied city hope-and real news of the war. The paper may be a small whisper amid the shouts of the German army, but Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print. Meanwhile, Isa Lassone, a Belgian-American socialite whose parents whisked her to safety at the start of the war, sneaks back into the country to rescue those dearest to her: Edward and his mother. But Edward refuses to go, and soon Isa is drawn into his secret life printing the newspaper . . . And into his heart.
And here is Emily’s review:
Isa is a teenage girl. Like many teenage girls, Isa believes in Fate. Only she calls Fate God. She is also somewhat naïve and impetuous.
Edward is working for the Belgian resistance movement. He works for the paper La Libre Belgique which still exists. It was founded during WWI to oppose the German dominated press. The book contains made-up headlines for the paper, (although some are real.) The paper seems to have been a mix of Pro-Belgian news, Anti-German feelings, and retractions of news stories in the German papers. This book seems accurate, although obviously there were real people involved.
The conflict between the two characters worked for me. There is some class conflict. Edward thinks Isa should leave because Belgium is dangerous. Isa thinks Belgium is dangerous for both of them. Edward thinks working on the resistance movement is dangerous but important. He thinks he should be the only one who should take the risk. Everyone else understands why it’s important and wants to take the risk. Edward did vex me because he failed to see how his decisions influenced others, especially his little brother. The final conflict is Edward has turned away from his faith.
God is front and center in this book as the main coping technique for living in an occupied country and belonging to the resistance movement. The characters use God to think they’re safe. All the characters believe everything is God’s will. God gets a lot of credit for making things happen and yet at the end of the book there were no miracles. Nothing seems particularly fortuitous. The characters do all of the work themselves. God seems almost absent.
My favorite characters were in the secondary romance including a German. I liked that the needs of secondary characters are thought of. I like the surprises of the plot.
I still had problems with this book. The characters needed better names. Why is Edward not Belgian? Why is Isa not Catholic? What faith are Edward and Isa? Even though this book was long I would have liked to see more in the ending, particularly the reunion with Isa’s parents and the secondary romance.