Children of the Stars

Children of the Stars

by Mario Escobar

Hardcover

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Overview

From international bestselling author Mario Escobar comes a story of escape, sacrifice, and hope amid the perils of the second World War.

August 1942. Jacob and Moses Stein, two young Jewish brothers, are staying with their aunt in Paris amid the Nazi occupation. The boys’ parents, well-known German playwrights, have left the brothers in their aunt’s care until they can find safe harbor for their family. But before the Steins can reunite, a great and terrifying roundup occurs. The French gendarmes, under Nazi order, arrest the boys and take them to the Vélodrome d’Hiver—a massive, bleak structure in Paris where thousands of France’s Jews are being forcibly detained.

Jacob and Moses know they must flee in order to survive, but they only have a set of letters sent from the south of France to guide them to their parents. Danger lurks around every corner as the boys, with nothing but each other, trek across the occupied country. Along their remarkable journey, they meet strangers and brave souls who put themselves at risk to protect the children—some of whom pay the ultimate price for helping these young refugees of war.

This inspiring novel, now available for the first time in English, demonstrates the power of family and the endurance of the human spirit—even through the darkest moments of human history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785234791
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 02/25/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 63,630
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Paris July 16, 1942

Jacob helped his brother get ready. He had been doing it for so long he went through the motions mechanically. They hardly talked as Jacob pulled off Moses's pajamas and helped him into his pants, shirt, and shoes. Moses was quiet with a lost, indifferent expression that sometimes broke Jacob's heart. Jacob knew Moses was old enough to get dressed on his own, but this was one way he could show his younger brother he was not alone, that they would stay together until the end and would be back with their parents as soon as possible.

Spring had gone by quickly enough, but the hot summer promised to drag on. Today was the first day of summer vacation. Aunt Judith left very early in the morning for work, and they were to fix breakfast, straighten up the apartment, buy food at the market, and go to the synagogue for bar mitzvah preparation. Their aunt insisted on it since Jacob was almost old enough to assume the bar mitzvah responsibilities of Jewish laws. He, however, thought it was all nonsense. Their parents had never taken them to the synagogue, and Eleazar and Jana themselves had known practically nothing about Judaism until they got to Paris. But Aunt Judith had always been devout and became even more so after her husband died in the Great War.

Jacob got his brother dressed and helped him wash his face. Then they both went to the kitchen, whose blue tiles were now dull from decades of scrubbing. The table, painted sky blue, had seen better days, but it held a basket with a few slices of black bread and cheese. Jacob poured some milk, heated it over the sputtering gas stove, and served it in two steaming bowls.

Moses ate as if safeguarding his breakfast from bread robbers all around. At eight years old, hardly a moment went by when he did not feel rapaciously hungry. Jacob was just as capable of eating everything in sight, which forced Judith to keep the pantry locked. Each day she set out their humble rations for breakfast and lunch and at night prepared a frugal supper of soup light on noodles or vegetables in a cream sauce. It was scant fare for two boys in their prime growing years, but the German occupation was exhausting the country's reserves.

In the summer of 1940, the French, especially Parisians, had fled en masse to the southern parts of the country, but most had returned home months later as they saw that the German occupation was not as barbaric as they had imagined. Jacob's family had not left the city then, despite being German exiles, but his father had taken the precaution of seeking refuge in his sister's house, hoping they would not easily raise Nazi suspicion.

Jacob knew that his family was doubly cursed: his father had been active in the socialist party and had written satirical tracts against the Nazis for years, not to mention that both Eleazar and Jana were Jewish — a damnable race according to the national socialists.

Paris was under the direct control of the Germans, represented by field marshal Wilhelm Keitel, and the Nazis had exploited and exhausted the populace. By the spring of 1942, it was nearly impossible to find coffee, sugar, soap, bread, oil, or butter. Fortunately, Aunt Judith worked for an aristocratic family that, compliments of the black market, was always well stocked and gave her some of the basic supplies that would have been impossible to acquire with her ration card.

After their meager breakfast, the brothers headed out. The previous night had been muggy, and the morning foretold an infernal heat. The boys ran down the stairs. The intense yellow of the Star of David shone brightly against their worn-out shirts, endlessly mended by their aunt.

The four sections of the apartment building, lined with windows, walled in the interior courtyard. From there they would pass through an archway and an outer gate leading to the street. Each side of the square building had its own staircase. As soon as Moses and Jacob stepped into the courtyard, they sensed something was wrong. They ran to the street. More than twenty dark buses with white roofs stood parked up and down the sidewalks. People swirled around as French police officers with white gloves and nightsticks herded them into the buses.

A chill ran all the way up Jacob's spine, and he grabbed hold of Moses's hand so tightly the younger child made a noise and tried to pull away.

"Don't let go of my hand!" Jacob growled, yanking his brother back toward the building. He knit his eyebrows together.

They were reentering the building when the doorwoman, leaning on her broom, sneered down at them and hollered to the gendarmes, "Aren't you going to take these Jewish rats?"

The boys looked at each other and took off running toward their stairway. Three of the policemen heard the doorwoman's raucous calling and saw the boys dashing toward the other side of the courtyard. The corporal gestured with his hand, and the other two ran after the boys, blowing their whistles and waving their nightsticks all the while.

The boys raced along the unvarnished wooden floor and the worn-down steps with broken boards, unable to keep their feet from pounding with terrible volume. The police looked up when they got to the stairwell. The corporal took the elevator and the other two agents started up the stairs.

Jacob and Moses panted as they approached the apartment door. Moses reached for the doorknob, but Jacob pulled him, and they ran toward the roof. They had spent countless hours there among the clotheslines, hiding among the hanging sheets, shooting doves with their slingshot, and staring at the city on the other side of the Seine. When they reached the wooden door that led to the roof, they paused past the threshold, hands on their knees as they gasped for air. Then Jacob led them to the edge of the building. The roofs stretched out in an interminable succession of flat black spaces, terra-cotta tiles, and spacious terraces some Parisians utilized for growing vegetables. The brothers climbed up a rusted ladder attached to an adjacent wall and walked tentatively among the roof tiles of a neighboring building.

The police watched them from the roof of Judith's apartment building. The corporal, winded despite having taken the elevator, blew his whistle again.

Jacob turned for a moment to judge the distance between the men dressed in black and themselves — instinctively, like a deer wondering how close the hounds are.

The younger two gendarmes awkwardly climbed up the ladder and resumed the chase, breaking half a dozen roof tiles as they closed the gap second by second.

Jacob stepped between two tiles and felt something crack. His leg fell through a hole, and searing pain shot up his shin. When he managed to pull his leg out, blood poured down into his dingy white socks. Moses helped him get to his feet again, and they kept running to the last building on the block. A chasm of more than seven feet separated the last rooftop from the next building.

Moses glanced at their pursuers and then at the abyss shining with the intense light of summer. Despite the light of day, a cavernous darkness below seemed eager to swallow anything that dared fall into it. Moses turned his bewildered look to Jacob, at a loss for what to do.

His brother reacted quickly. Just below them there was a small terrace. From there, a ledge circled the building toward the main road. Perhaps they could reach a house, then the street, then try to get lost in the crowd. Without a second thought, Joseph jumped and turned to help Moses, arms outstretched. Just as the younger child began to leap, a pair of hands grabbed his legs. He twisted and hit the rooftop hard.

"Jacob!" Moses screamed, trapped.

For a moment, Jacob did not know what to do. He could not abandon his brother, but if he went back up on the rooftop, they would both fall into the police's hands. He did not understand why, but his parents had warned him about the Nazis sending Jews to concentration camps in Germany and Poland.

The corporal leaned out over the rooftop and saw Moses from the ledge.

"Stop it, you brat!" he bellowed as he grabbed the younger boy from the other policeman, held him by an ankle, and dangled him over the roof.

"No!" Jacob yelled.

His brother's face was purple with terror, and he flailed like a fish yanked out of water.

"Come back up here. You don't want your brother to fall, do you?" the corporal called with mocking as he held Moses a little farther over the edge.

Jacob's heart beat harder and faster than ever in his life. He could feel it in his temples and in the tips of his fingers through his clenched fists. His breath abandoned him. He raised his hands and tried to scream, but nothing came out.

"Get up here now! You and your people have wasted enough of our time today!"

In the sunken eyes of the corporal the boy could see a hatred he could not understand, but he had seen it often over the past few months. He climbed back up the wall toward the roof and stood before the corporal.

The corporal was a tall, heavy-set man whose stomach threatened to burst from his uniform jacket with every breath. His hat sagged to the side, and the knot of his tie was half undone. In his red face, his brown mustache quivered as his lips frowned and spat out words.

Once Jacob came up from the terrace, the corporal let Moses fall with a thud onto the rooftop. The other two gendarmes grabbed both boys by the arms and carried them between them back to the first building. They descended in the elevator and returned to the courtyard.

The doorwoman smiled as they passed, as if the capture of the two brothers had brightened her day. The old woman spat at them and shrieked, "Foreign communist scum! I won't have another Jew in my building!"

Jacob gave her a hard, defiant stare. He knew her well. She was a lying busybody. A few months prior, Aunt Judith had helped the doorwoman acquire ration cards. The woman could neither read nor write and had a disabled son who rarely left their apartment. Occasionally on a nice afternoon, she would labor to get him out to the courtyard and sit him down while the boy, crippled and blind, shook all the while.

Moses had not yet recovered from the terror of dangling over the roof, and he turned his eyes toward the woman. Though she always yelled at them when they ran in and out of the building or bothered the neighbors with their shouts or the noise of pounding up and down the stairs, they had never done anything to her.

The street still teemed with people, and the buses were already half full. The gendarmes shoved the women, hit the children, and brusquely hurried the older people along. There were very few young men. Most had been in hiding for months. The helpless throng, compelled by fear and uncertainty, moved like a flock of silent sheep about to be sacrificed, unable to imagine that the police of the freest country on earth were sending them off to the slaughter-house before the impassive gaze of friends and neighbors.

The buses roared to life as Moses stared mesmerized out the window. He felt the odd sensation of going on a field trip. Beside him, Jacob studied the terrified faces of the other passengers, all of whom avoided one another's eyes, as if they felt invisible under the scorn of a world to which they no longer belonged.

CHAPTER 2

Paris July 16, 1942

The buses came to a stop in front of a large building. The gendarmes jumped out of their cars and stood in a line to prevent the Jews from slipping off to nearby streets. The sun was beating down on the buses, draining the passengers' energy. Yet Jacob and Moses kept their eyes on the Eiffel Tower, situated behind them. Looking at it made their present reality seem less real.

The French police beat the metal doors of the buses for the drivers to open up. The passengers looked around. No one wanted to be the first to get off the bus. They had held collective silence on the way there, and now uncertainty had taken such hold of their souls that resignation seemed the only viable response to their unexpected arrest. Most were foreigners, though some French Jews had fallen into the spiderweb woven around them. An elderly gentleman dressed in a work uniform stood and addressed the frightened passengers.

"We need to stay calm. Surely the French are bringing us here to protect us. This country would never let them deport us to Germany. We may be occupied and the German hordes may rule our lives, but the values of the Republic still stand."

One of the few young men on the bus pushed the older man aside and stared defiantly at the rest of the passengers. "Are you stupid sheep or human beings? Haven't you noticed that since the occupation began the French government has registered us in their files, forbidden us from working in most trades, and forced us to wear these stars like they do in Germany? What's waiting for us in there is prison. Then they will send us north by train."

A woman dressed in a nice gray suit and blue hat made to leave the bus. The younger man stood in her way, but she pushed him aside. "Let me by. Don't intimidate these poor people. We have no idea what's waiting for us, but haven't we always been persecuted? Yet somehow we survive?"

The rest of the passengers filled the aisle and pushed and shoved their way toward the door. Outside the buses, a long line of women, men, and children marched slowly toward a set of enormous doors. Above them hung a sign with stylized letters: VÉL D'HIV.

Jacob and Moses knew the place. Their father had taken them there once to watch a bicycle race. The velodrome allowed Parisians to enjoy cycling competitions throughout the winter, and all sorts of events were held there.

A boy sitting behind them leaned forward and asked, "You're the Stein brothers, aren't you?"

Jacob and Moses turned to look at him. It was a relief to know someone in the crowd of strangers. "Yes," Jacob said, getting to his feet. They were the last ones in the line that had formed in the bus aisle.

"I'm Joseph, the plumber's son," the boy said. "We used to study together in the synagogue, but lately my father has let me go with him to his jobs. You haven't seen him here, have you?"

"No, you're the only person we've recognized today," Jacob said.

"This morning they beat on the door of our house. My father went out with a wrench in his hands, but he left it in the foyer when he saw it was the gendarmes. They told us to bring one blanket and one shirt per person, nothing else. But we got separated when we got to the buses."

Jacob answered in kind. "They didn't come looking for us, but the doorwoman of our building started hollering, and a few policemen ran after us. We tried to get away on the rooftops, but they chased us down."

A gendarme stuck his head through the door and shouted, "Get out here, you little rats!"

Terrified, the boys ran to the door. Moses caught the eyes of the bus driver for a moment before the man lowered his head. It had been the worst job the man had ever had to do. He did not know what the gendarmes planned to do with these people, but he was ashamed that the French collaborated with the Nazis. Since occupation, he had tried to slip under the radar. Union members and anyone who spoke out for other political parties were accused of high treason against France.

Jacob exited the bus first and faced the gendarme. The policeman scowled and indicated with his nightstick where they should walk. In the brief moments the boys had remained on the bus, most people had already entered the stadium. Moses clung to his brother's hand, and Joseph followed the rest of the crowd down a wide hallway. As they reached the end, they heard a murmur that grew to a deafening roar. They entered the enormous dome and looked at the stands. Then their eyes wandered to the slanted racetrack and the long rectangle in the center where a few Red Cross tents stood.

"Oh no," Moses whimpered. His jaw dropped, and his eyes struggled to take in the enormous space. He only vaguely remembered the time they had come to the velodrome with their father.

"There are thousands of people here," Joseph said, incredulous. It would be nigh impossible to find his family.

A government worker seated at a wooden desk motioned to them. The three boys walked toward him in single file.

"First and last name," the man demanded without looking up. Round spectacles attached to his jacket by a chain balanced precariously on his narrow nose. "Are you deaf?" he barked when they did not answer immediately.

"Why have you brought us here?" Jacob asked. The man set down his pen and crossed his arms at the boy's insolence. He finally looked at them.

"Where are your parents? Didn't they teach you any respect?" he growled.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Children of the Stars"
by .
Copyright © 2020 Mario Escobar Golderos.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

Children of the Stars 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
paigereadsthepage 26 days ago
Falling somewhere between an odyssey and a saga, this is a tale of exile reminding us that kindness and humanity will radiate in the season of sorrow. 1942: The parents of Jacob and Moses have sent the boys to live with their aunt in Paris since the war is getting worse. On the streets, the boys get swept away in the Velodrome d’Hiver roundup in Paris. Choosing to escape, Jacob and Moses return to their aunt’s home, discover old letters from their parents, and decide to go find them. Through Jacob and Moses’ journey to reunite with their parents, we see an assortment of people with their own ethnicity, history, ideals, and stories. The variety of people they encounter leave you seeing the variations of WWII through an array of lenses. I really enjoyed that it centered around the viewpoint of children; two boys holding on to what remains of childhood. The relationship between Jacob and Moses is so sweet and childlike though war attempts to blockade their innocence. The author confirms the brothers, Jacob and Moses, are fictitious. However, they represent the real children who traveled across Europe as refugees during WWII. Historically, Mario Escobar gracefully blends facts with fiction. He addresses areas in Europe that are commonly suppressed amid a defying WWII history. Several authentic historical characters are involved that include Andre Trocme, Daniel Trome, and Edouard Theis. Rating explained: While tender and touching, there were some implausible situations and cliché conditions. Also, their voyage to find their parents continued relentlessly, so I always knew what to expect to happen…they would keep going to find their parents. Overall, it is a feel-good novel that takes you across Europe with two children during war.There is a lot of historical content and I found myself Googling a lot of the names and places. There is mild violence, no vulgar language, and no sex. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Sample Quotes: -“Observing the happiness of others always makes the world make a little more sense all of a sudden, makes suffering a little more bearable, makes grief a little less suffocating.” -“When you’re young, you dream about making the world a better place, overturning injustice and inequality. But within time you just settle for getting by.” -“Don’t ever change. Sometimes the world can turn us into something we shouldn’t be.” -“Humans are nothing more than the sum of their affections and the connections they make in life. When those ties break, loneliness destroys what little is left in an uninhabited heart.”
Jeannie3doxie 9 days ago
This is a great book! It's crazy what these children went through to find their parents! There is so much love between the brothers and the folks that gave their all to help these children. It's a good story! Thank you so much, Mario Escobar, the Publisher, and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book!
Nursebookie 10 days ago
I enjoyed this amazing heart wrenching story of brotherhood, family, hope and resilience in the midst of the horrors and perils of the second World War. It is the summer of 1942 when brothers Jacob and Moses Stein are with their aunt in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Their parents in Germany are famous playwrights who are trying to reunite the family. The children end up forcible detained at the Vélodrome d’Hiver. They escaped the harrowing conditions of that place and returns to their aunts apartment but she is no longer there. With only a postmarked letter with an address for the south of France, the boys’ determination and strength are tested as they struggle to survive through their journey. The story of their ordeal through their journey in hopes of reconciling with their parents was both intense and also inspiring to see how people will go to lengths of helping others. This was a powerful read that tests the human spirit through the darkest of times. This novel truly inspired me and brought hope in this must read, heart warming story
Svara 20 days ago
A good story about 2 brothers that escape the Nazis. The story was a good story and that's pretty much all it was. No fact checked history to be found here and not even a believable story. Every time the boys get in trouble or need help someone magically appears to help them on their way. It's a read in a day book that does flow quickly. Nice poolside read.
PBDeb 21 days ago
Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar This story immediately strikes me as a YA novel. It gives the reader a clear explanation of the evils of Germany in the early 1940s in Europe, as seen through the eyes of two young Jewish boys. These siblings are left to their own devices to find their parents Eleazar and Jana who have escaped to Buenos Aires, leaving the youngsters with an aunt in Paris. Jacob is left to care for his younger brother Moses as events cause the brothers to be on the run as they search for their parents. There are moments of tension in the story as the boys manage to squeak out of many bad situations, as one evil after another keep the boys moving about. As an adult, you will wonder how Jacob has such worldly and mature thoughts about life considering his lack of experience. A YA reader will probably just pass over these thoughts without even considering this. This reviewer thinks this story would be a good introduction for learning about the Holocaust, as it is quite an adventure for a young reader, but not a story for an older one. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #ThomasNelson#Netgalley
grammy57 21 days ago
This book is the first I've read by Mario Escobar and I was truly impressed. The story was very riveting and completely held my attention. I knew the story was about Jewish Children during WWII but that was the extent before reading this. The story revolves around two young boys. Both were very well depicted and you felt like you knew them. There were several other characters in the book that you got to know to some degree. You never felt like you didn't know enough about them but you didn't feel overwhelmed with useless information either. The story flowed very well and kept me wanting more. It is a clean story, no sexual content, and no foul words. The editing was also well done. I give this book a 5 out of 5 star rating and would recommend this to my friends.
AmberK1120 23 days ago
I feel like we’ve come to a point where it’s very hard to write a story about WWII that hadn’t already been told. Escobar’s book turned out to be a unique surprise for me, because it was exactly that: a WWII story I hadn’t already heard. A story of two young boys making their way through war-torn and Nazi-filled countries in a desperate attempt to reunite themselves with their parents. As I always say, I’m a huge fan of character-driven novels, and stories about families and sibling relationships. So I especially appreciated the bond between Jacob and Moses. Their dedication to each other, and to finding their parents, was both heartwarming and heartbreaking (WWII). There were plenty of instances, both good and not so good, when I was reading with my heart in my throat. I have to admit to being surprised at how hopeful and inspirational this story was. There were so many nuggets of wisdom peppered throughout the story, life lessons important for everyone to hear. Normally I approach a WWII story expecting to be in a near constant state of anxiety as I make my way through the story, but that wasn’t what happened here. It was a refreshing experience. One other aspect worth mentioning: this is a translation from the original Spanish, and it read flawlessly. I’ve read some less than stellar translations, and this was not one of them. I didn’t even realize it had been translated until after I’d read it.
Missy Wal 25 days ago
Set in 1942. Two Jewish boys are left in Paris with their aunt during the Hitler siege. The Nazis have rounded up and put all the Jewish people in the velodrome. Moses and Jacob Stein escape and are on the run looking for their parents. “I hope you rest well. The Angels are watching over you.” The Germans are out in full force to capture every Jew. Traveling has become very dangerous. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Such a sad and scary time especially if you were a Jew. Thank you to publisher and NetGalley for eARC.
BonMaimeo 27 days ago
This was a heartrending story of two brothers separated from their parents during the early 1940s sent to live with their aunt where it was assumed they would be safe. In this historical fiction about the holocaust, the boys encountered both the kind and unkind people during their travel in their search for their parents. What they've encountered was horrific, but the kind souls that stepped in to help gave hope for good-hearted human beings. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the ARC.
JReppy 27 days ago
"Children of the Stars" is a powerful story of faith, hope, and the kindness of strangers prevailing over evil. The book focuses on Jacob and Moses Stein, Jewish brothers living in Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. Their parents had left them in the care of their aunt Judith. Early in the story the boys are rounded up with thousands of other Jews, some French citizens, other refugees, and taken to the velodrome in Paris [an event that actually happened]. After some harrowing experiences, they manage to escape and make it back to Aunt Judith's apartment. Judith is gone, but Jacob finds letters from their parents indicating they plan to go to South America, hoping to send for the boys later. The boys decide to head to Valence, the town from which the letters were posted, in hopes of finding their parents before they sail for Argentina. The book focuses on their journey, which is fraught with peril, but during which they are aided by numerous individuals who risk their lives to the help the Steins and other refugees. The author does a good job of portraying the risks that Jews and other refugees faced in trying to escape from the Nazis, the risks faced by those who assisted them, and the tough choices faced by many French citizens and officials, some who choose to collaborate with the Nazis for their own survival or because of agreement with their views, and others who choose to resist in small or large ways. While the Steins were a fictional creation, some of the characters in the book, in particular Pastor Andre Trocme and his wife Magda, Daniel Trocme, and many of the residents of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, were real people and the Trocmes' and others in this small remote village did help shelter thousands of refugee such as the Steins (who were in the village for a short period in the course of the story). While historical fiction routinely utilizes real people with whom the fictional characters interact, the tendency is for the real people to be familiar names from that historical time period. The author's decision to utilize the real story of this village and its residents, which does not appear to be well known, adds a strength and more personal touch to the story. One of the best parts of the book is the growth of Jacob and Moses. Both boys had some awareness of what was going on in France and elsewhere, including discrimination against the Jewish populations, but neither one fully understood what was happening around them. However, they are forced to grow up quickly, especially Jacob, the older brother, who feels an extra responsibility to protect Moses. On their travels, they meet people who take advantage of them, but they also meet or are guided to a variety of strangers who are willing to provide food, temporary shelter, and assistance on their journey. In their actions and interactions, the reader is able to see the boys become more "world wise" and develop the beliefs and virtues that will guide their later lives. At one point, Moses asks Jacob why people want to harm them for being Jews. Jacob mentions some of the common excuses for hating the Jews -- killing Christ, having a lot of money -- but when Moses mentions that they did nothing to Christ and they are not rich, Jacob responds, "No, but once people begin to hate, they stop asking questions. Stop using their brains. They just look down on other people." That is a great description of the virus of hate. I received the e-book via Netgalley for a review.
Anonymous 28 days ago
I read a lot of WWII historical fiction, but I hadn't read about this town before in France where the townspeople tried to help as many people escaping the Nazis as came their way. I was really moved that some people were standing up to even their own French leaders who extolled them to help the Nazis. The two main characters in the story, Jacob and Moses were amazingly brave to go through all that they did on their own to find their parents. As scary as it must've been to be an adult in France during that time in history, I can't imagine how even more daunting it was to be a child on your own.
dlvandruff 28 days ago
Children of the Stars is a historical fiction novel. It is about two German boys Jacob 12 and Moses 7. They are separated from their parents. Fighting to reunite with them they cross two countries, an ocean during World War Ii. Many times they barely escape with their lives and other times they are barely able to escape German soldiers wanting to send them to the camps. What makes this an interesting and heartwarming story is all the strangers that put their lives on the line to help these children reach their goal. The goal of being reunited with their parents. People of the French Resistance were ready and willing to help no matter the consequences. The children in the story may be fiction but so many of the places and people are real. This is especially a story of hope, strength, courage, fortitude and preserverance. Definitely worth reading!
Carolynmb 29 days ago
A favorite quote: “Though the world is full of injustice, don’t ever give up hope. There’s a lush valley behind every new mountain.” Children of the Stars is a historical fiction novel set in France during World War II. This touching story chronicles the twenty-eight month long journey of two young Jewish brothers Jacob and Moses Stein as they escape from confinement in war-besieged Paris and travel across German-occupied France to Spain and finally to Argentina in search of their parents who have left them in Paris with an elderly aunt to go seek a safer place to live. The plot in this compelling adventure flows at a fitting pace twisting and turning with hope then disappointment. The author skillfully blends real-life historical characters and events into the fictional plot. The characters are well developed, but at times their escapes did not seem plausible; however, that’s ok because after all this is a fictional account! This story of perseverance and survival evokes a myriad of emotions—fear, anger, sympathy, sadness, outrage, joy, hope, and thankfulness to name a few. The World War II Era is not my favorite setting, and I was hesitant to read this book even with all the positive comments from Christian authors who I follow; however, I am glad I read it! This book captured and kept my interest from the beginning. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and rich figurative imagery, and I especially enjoyed the segment of the story set in Le Chambon-sur-Ligon (quoting the author) “…where a village of men and women set their faces against the horror and showed that, armed with the Spirit, the noblest hearts are capable of overcoming and that the shadows of evil will finally be dispelled until light invades everything once more—for a new generation to believe it can change the world, or at least try.” I highly recommend this book. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley but am under no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.
Shirleymca 3 months ago
Steins never give up "I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This is a story of two Jewish brothers Jacob and Moses Stein. It is a book of fiction but it is based on. True events and stories of the Jewish in France during the occupation by the German Nazi's. The brothers are living with their aunt in Paris when they are caught in a roundup by the Nazi's and taken to a large auditorium to be held for shipment to labor camps. The boys escape but as they return home they are rescued by a neighbor that tells them their aunt jumped out a window to her death rather than be captured. Now they must travel thousands of miles across France to find their parents. The story written is about their journey. The people they meet along the way. Those that help them and the close escapes they have from those that wish to capture them. They meet so many people that risked their lives to help the Jewish boys. such as those at Le-Chambon-sur-Lignon with Pastor Andre and his wife Magda. So many people helped showing that not everyone had hate in their hearts. In this horrible historical time there were compassionate and loving people. The boys were brave and they never gave up trying to find their parents. This was a great read, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Thanks to Mario Escobar, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review an advance copy of this book.
TJReads 3 months ago
Since I have read so many WWII books in the past couple years, I have tried to up my game on my choices of reading material of this genre and was certainly looking forward to this read of the two young lads. Hence, I wouldn’t say this was a bad book, it was just not a truly memorable one. The description tells the story so I won’t go back over it. As expected for two young boys taking off to find their parents and covering many miles, you can envision they run into quite a few bad circumstances, trials and tribulations. But along the way they meet some fine and caring souls that help them with their generosity, love, and risking their lives. This book does make you believe in the goodness of people in unfortunate and horrendous conditions. I did feel some of the boy’s adventures were too convenient and hard to believe. As for the parents, in the dire circumstances of war, I don’t know what I would have done, but it would have been so difficult to leave the children as they did and travel so far away and continue moving farther. I thank the publisher for giving me the opportunity to receive this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. This one gets 4****’s.
brf1948 3 months ago
I received a free electronic copy of the ARC of this historical novel from Netgalley, Mario Escobar, and Thomas Nelson Publisher. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. I am adding Mario Escobar to my favorite authors. He writes a brisk, compelling tale with factual historical backgrounds and sympathetic protagonists. And Children of the Stars is an excellent WWII historical. We begin with a prolog dating back to May 23, 1941, when Jewish German immigrant parents Eleazar and Jana Stein, actors by profession, take a train from Paris to seek a safe new home for their family further south. Paris has become dangerous and non-French Jews are being returned to German workhouses. Their children, brothers Jacob and Moses are left in Paris with their Aunt Judith, the older widowed sister of Eleazar and a long-time resident of Paris who took in her brother and family six years ago when they had to flee from Germany. Judith is not registered as Jewish and the boys should be safe with her in Paris until Eleazar and Jana can establish a safer home and send for them. Their ultimate destination would eventually be in South America. Paris, in the spring of 1942, basic supplies and foods are exhausted, scooped up by German soldiers, and even those French residents with ration cards and ready cash can find little to eat. By the summer of 1942, Paris was under direct German rule and on July 6, 1942, French police officers began a mass arrest of 13,152 Jews, whom they held at the Winter Velodrome before deportation to Auschwitz. Thousands of Jewish families, including native French Jews, were imprisoned there for days without food, water, medical assistance, or hope. Many were ill from the unrelieved heat and dehydration. All were enveloped in fear. The Stein boys were turned into the police by the doorwoman of Aunt Judith's apartment on day one while Judith was at work. They did not know if Judith was entrapped as well but were not able to find her in the Velodrome. Jacob, twelve years old, Moses, eight, team up with a youngster about Jacob's age named Joseph, also looking for family members in the crowded Velodrome. They managed to find their way into the basement area, and eventually, following the sound of water flowing in the sewer pipes, they were small enough to escape back under the streets of Paris and eventually to the apartment house of their Aunt. Finding no sign of Judith, the boys go with Joseph to his home. Joseph discovers that his family is interred at Drancy, and he chooses to join them there. First, they return to Judith's apartment, gathering necessities that will fit in their backpacks along with letters from their parents and their own passports. And find out from Margot, their downstairs neighbor, and friend, that their Aunt Judith had committed suicide, jumping from the roof of the apartment complex. Judith knew what happened to her father, taken to Dachau in 1937. She couldn't live knowing the German's had captured her nephews. On their own, Jacob and Moses accompany Joseph as close as they can safely get to the gates of the internment camp and watch as he is reunited with his parents behind the gates of Drancy before making their way to the Gare de Lyon train station, and slipping onto the train without being stopped. In Versailles, they will be met by Margot's friend Raoul Leduc, an art restorer
Foxlady99 3 months ago
This book was inspired by true events, but woven into an amazing historical fiction novel. Two Jewish brothers, who have been left in the care of their Aunt who lives in Paris. Their parents have fled the country in hopes they can find a safe place to live and then send for their children. But time and time again those plans fall apart and these kids have to rely on strangers to help them get out of France. An amazing take of strength, determination, and bravery that will leave you asking yourself, could you have done this. Would you leave your children and hope that you would one day see them again. Could you flee the only home you have ever known, depend on people you just met, and have a faith strong enough that you know you will never stop trying to find your family? I am still asking myself those questions. I received this book from Netgalley and Thomas Nelson Fiction in exchange for my honest review.
BlessedandBookish 3 months ago
Children of the Stars is a harrowing tale of two Jewish boys' desperate escape from Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Mario Escobar weaves the true story of the people who lived in a secluded mountain town in France named Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon into his fictional tale when the boys arrive in the village looking for refuge. The brave men and women of this rural town risked their lives to save the people marked for destruction by the Nazi regime. Children of the Stars was both a beautiful and terrifying story. Knowing the brutality and hatred that fueled the Nazi’s goal of eliminating the Jewish people, it was difficult to read about two young boys who were without protection or guidance from family or friends. They seemed so young, lost and vulnerable. The daily peril Jacob and Moses encountered on their journey kept me turning pages and reading one more chapter despite the dread I had at knowing the truth about the horrors they might face. One of the reasons I love historical fiction is I like to learn about parts of history that may otherwise remain a mystery. And while I knew there were people who opposed the Nazis and fought to keep as many Jews safe as possible, I did not know about the brave community of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon. Reading the sermons from the pastors there, and seeing the sacrifices people were willing to stand up against such evil was a beautiful tribute to the good in humanity and the heart Christ gives us. This goodness was a common theme in the book as Jacob and Moses traveled day after day. There were plenty of ‘bad’ people along their path. There was definitely evil closing in on all sides, but they managed to find the good in people, too--the love shared between others simply because we have the same heart beating inside each of us. The shifting point of view distracted me at first, but I quickly became accustomed to it, and it allowed the author to give us more insight into how people from different walks of life viewed the destruction happening all around them. If you are a fan of historical fiction, especially WWII fiction, you will enjoy the unique tale of this book. I have read several fictional WWII books as well as several non-fiction books by survivors of the Holocaust, and I’d never come across a story like this. The historical details the author gives before and after the story are interesting as well. You can tell the sacrifice and bravery of the people of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon laid heavy on the author’s heart, and I’m glad he shared their story with all of us. I was given a copy of this book by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions are my own.
CapriciousNiteOwl 3 months ago
Children of the Stars is an important tale of two Jewish brothers and their journey across Europe and later across the Atlantic Ocean in a search of their parents. It is a heartbreaking but full of hope story of survival, love, and sacrifice during the harrowing times of WW2 and Holocaust. I think any story about Holocaust is an important story to know. Even though both main characters, Jacob and Moses, are fictional, their courageous journey tells a story of many children during WW2 and their struggle to survive and reunite with their families. However, reading this book I found myself a little distracted and not as emotionally affected, as I would hope so. Yes, I rooted for Jacob and Moses, but I did not feel emotionally connected to them. Something was missing it the way both characters where presented in this story, and maybe if the author spend more time on developing his characters than on the plot itself, which was moving quite fast in my opinion, I would have been able to “feel” more and to build an emotional attachment to them. This is my second book by Mario Escobar, and I am definitely looking forward to reading more books by him. Thank you NetGalley, Thomas Nelson publisher, and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
lee2staes 3 months ago
Children of the Stars kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Its a story about the exceptional bond between two loving brothers and how families had to make the impossible choices during WW II. This book definitely made me count my blessings and be thankful for the love I have for my family and how that can help me get through anything. I highly recommend this book. I would like to thank Netgalley, the publisher and the author for providing me with an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion of this book. #ChildrenOfTheStars #NetGalley
LibMom 3 months ago
Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar is an incredibly well-researched novel that pulls back the curtains on a lesser-told story of World War II involving Jews who escaped to Argentina. This novel, originally written and published in Spain, has just been released in English. As the title suggest, this novel focuses on children--particularly Jacob and Moses Stein. Their story begins the day that Parisian Jews were rounded up to the Velodrome where these boys outsmart the Nazis and French Gendarmes. Knowing they want to find their parents who had already left Paris in hopes of finding their way to safety, Jacob and Moses embark on a trip throughout France. Following the trail of their parents, they encounter numerous kind individuals who assist them on their journey as well as numerous incidents where they out-maneuver individuals set on capturing them. Their journey takes them through the little known Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, a French village where Protestant Christians actively hid many Jewish refugees and helped them to safety. Jacob and Moses' journey extends beyond France to reunite with their parents in Argentina. Children of the Stars is told primarily from the viewpoint of Jacob Stein, the older brother. In addition to their harrowing journey, the story depicts his growth from a child to becoming a young adult. The responsibilities he took on of caring for his younger brother and seeking his parents, combined with the travesties of war, forced him to grow up quickly. While not hiding the atrocities of war, Children of the Stars does not include gratuitous adult situations. Most of the time when I spy a World War II book, I'm going to read it although I often find the writing and coverage to be inconsistent and some topics to be overdone. Children of the Stars by Mario Escobar definitely does not fall into this category and needs to find a place on your to-be-read list. Appropriate for teens and could even be used as a read-aloud for middle-school students. I was provided a complementary digital copy from NetGalley and Thomas Nelson Publishers. I am not required to give a positive opinion and all opinions are my own.
marongm8 3 months ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I could not stop crying after I read this book! The heartwarming relationship between Jacob and Moses was so kind to see that it brought tears to my eyes. I have read a lot of Holocaust Historical Fiction and have loved every one of them but this one really does a number on you mostly because it focuses on the relationship between the two brothers and the strong relationship and sense of family. The bond they had to survive this terrible event was so inspiring and really opened my eyes how strong and powerful that can be. This book definitely made me count my blessings and be thankful for the love I have for my family and how that can help me get through anything. We will consider adding this title to our Historical Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Linda romer 3 months ago
I liked Children of the Stars. This story about two brothers trying to find their parents during World war ll was touching. Through their struggle during this harrowing time they came across many people willing to shelter and help them along the way. I found the story to be full of hope and enjoyed the outcome. #ChildrenOfTheStars #NetGalley I give Children of the Stars 3 stars for its endearing read. I would recommend this book to Historical Fiction Fans.
Kwpat 3 months ago
First, I loved the cover! Children of the Stars follows two Jewish brothers, twelve-year-old Jacob and eight-year-old Moses. Their parents left the boys with an aunt in Paris during the war thinking it was safer for them. During the Paris round-up, the boys were taken to the Velodrome, I read a lot of WWII historical fiction. I liked the premise of this story but had a very hard time finishing this book. At times it was unrealistic, Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Christianfictionandmore 3 months ago
This is a book from which it is difficult to emerge. The reader becomes completely immersed in the lives and travels of Jacob and Moses Stein as they seek to find their parents while avoiding being captured as Jews are being rounded up. One can only feel immense gratitude for all those who sacrificially gave of themselves and their resources, often risking their own lives, as they assisted those trying to escape the horrors of occupation and the camps. Mario Escobar is a deep thinker who expresses himself with the beauty of words, as evidenced by the multiple highlights I have within the pages of this book. He reveals the souls of people represented by his characters and of those who truly lived in the difficult times in which this book is set. He also reveals great pieces of wisdom for all times, ones readers will want to hold onto. This is a book to be treasured, and I am grateful to have received a complementary copy from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley. All opinions expressed here are completely my own.