21 August 2023

The Keeper of Hidden Books - Book Review

The Keeper of Hidden Books
by Madeline Martin
Publication: August 1, 2023
Pages: 416 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Librarians truly save the world over and over.

I have to admit, I broke my personal ban on WWII books to read this one. And I might not regret it. Of course it was the books that drew me in, and they always do.

In Warsaw, Poland, the Germans surely can never take such an amazing and powerful city, until they do. As the Germans start dictating what books are allowed to be available for lending, the librarians and library employees bravely start hiding the banned books and declaring them lost before the Germans 'relocate' them, which of course actually means burning them. Even before the occupation, Zofia and her friends have been purposely reading books banned by Hitler, and they try to keep their secret book club going without being noticed by the enemy troops, who are now running their library.

I loved the friendship between the original book club members, and those they add when their common interest is keeping the library materials so they can thrive again once the Germans are gone. Of course Zofia and her best friend Janina will always be best friends, but Zofia knows that she has no concept of the injustices Janina experiences as being relocated and then forced to stay in the Jewish ghetto with her parents. 

This book earned 4 out of 5 stars from me. I loved the different efforts by the close friend group and library employees to keep offering the escape that is reading for the citizens of Poland and even in the Jewish ghetto. The story wasn't just about Zofia and her work with the library, but the secret library branch that stayed open only to those who knew its secret, and Janina trying to share books in the ghetto. I'd recommend this book to not only those who enjoy WWII stories (who must be a lot of people, as it's a very popular genre), but also to those who appreciate the power of books.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review. 

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