About the Book
“This tense WWII historical from Barratt (My Dearest Dietrich) follows a woman’s efforts to help her neighbors survive the Kraków ghetto. . . . Moving and effective, this inspirational finds light in the darkest of places.”–Publishers Weekly
Zosia Lewandowska knows the brutal realities of war all too well. Within weeks of Germany’s invasion of her Polish homeland, she lost the man she loves. As ghetto walls rise and the occupiers tighten their grip on the city of Krakow, Zosia joins pharmacist Tadeusz Pankiewicz and his staff in the heart of the Krakow ghetto as they risk their lives to aid the Jewish people trapped by Nazi oppression.
Hania Silverman’s carefree girlhood is shattered as her family is forced into the ghetto. Struggling to survive in a world hemmed in by walls and rife with cruelty and despair, she encounters Zosia, her former neighbor, at the pharmacy. As deportation winnow the ghetto’s population and snatch those she holds dear, Hania’s natural resiliency is exhausted by reality.
Zodia and Hania’s lives intertwine as they face the griefs and fears thrust upon them by war, until one day, they are forced to make a desperate choice . . . one that will inexorably bind them together, even as they are torn apart.
Amanda Barratt’s meticulous research and lush, award-winning writing shine once again in this moving look at a group of unsung heroes who fought for hope and humanity in the most harrowing of times.
In My Opinion
It’s been two and a half years since Amanda Barratt’s The White Rose Resists released and it’s a book that I still talk about today. Now, with a new release from Barratt. I have found another book I will be telling people about for years because Within These Walls of Sorrow is unforgettable—both in the absolute despair and tragedy of what an entire nation suffered during World War II and in the hope they clung to despite the atrocities they experienced.
If you haven’t figured it out from the title, this book was not an easy read. My emotions were so wrought throughout this story that I had to put it down and walk away on a few occasions. Yet the story never left me and I had to come back to it. But let me give you five reasons you should read Within These Walls of Sorrow.
- The research is impeccable. The author has stated that she read over 50 books, spoke with someone at the historical society in Krakow, Poland, and listened to interviews from those who lived in the ghetto and in the pharmacy within the ghetto’s walls.
- Amanda Barratt honors the people of Krakow by telling their story in this way. She gives readers two heroines with different experiences in the ghetto whose courage in the midst of all they see and learn of the evil other humans can carry out on one another. The author has chosen to leave some extremely difficult details in the book but also lets her characters remember bits and pieces of others so we, as readers, get a reprieve from the despair.
- This story reminds us that there were courageous people—some friends, some strangers, some considered enemies—who took both big and small risks for these people. But there were also people who, even after the war, treated the Jews as poorly as the Germans did.
- By writing this story in fiction form and giving readers points of view from a Polish woman and a Jewish woman, Barratt doesn’t recite history at the reader, she puts us in the middle of it as we live it with these characters. The author reminds us of how in the depths of the darkness, we cling to hope. No matter how fragile or fleeting that hope, we grasp on with all our might and with it in our hearts and heads, we fight to survive.
- Finally, this book challenges you. It made me ask some hard questions. Would I be willing to risk my life for others? Zosia knew Hania and her family, yet she helped more than those few. When faced with evil and hatred so deep it strips others of their humanity, would I stand as a beacon of hope for those in the face of it or would I turn my back? The truth of the matter is, there is plenty of evil and hate in today’s world.
I can guarantee that this book, read at the beginning of 2023, will be on my list of top reads at the end of the year because I won’t forget. I won’t forget this story or the history behind it. I won’t forget the lives that were lost or the hope that shone from a pharmacy that God kept open in the Krakow ghetto.
Disclosure statement: I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.