But then Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the overseer's doorstep. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear--but if her German captors discover how much she's hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price.
About the Author
Liz is also a popular speaker on topics such as writing, marriage, living with courage, and adoption. She and her husband have adopted all their children internationally. Liz resides in semi-rural Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters; her son currently serves as a U.S. Marine. Liz is a breast cancer survivor and lives her life to the fullest. In her free time, she enjoys reading, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.
Read an Excerpt
Central Poland, Early Spring 1943
Pain ripped through Natia Palinska's midsection. She grasped the bedcovers as another contraction gripped her and stole her breath. "Nie, nie."
Her husband, Teodor, smoothed her hair from her damp forehead, his fingers calloused. "Moje slonce, it will be all right, my sunshine. Just hang on. Please, let me fetch a doctor."
She released the sheet and grasped him by the elbow. "Don't leave me. Our baby ..." Her heart pounded. She had failed him again.
"It's too soon. Not another one gone." The pain in her heart was greater than that in her abdomen. This time, she'd held on to the pregnancy longer. This time, their child had moved within her.
The contraction ended. She sucked in a deep breath.
"You need a doctor. You're bleeding so much." His voice cracked.
She did this to him. Caused him this sorrow. Tears blurred her vision. "What doctor? The Germans took them all."
"Then the babka at least. She'll know what to do. This delivery is different." He gripped her hand until he almost crushed it.
"Don't go. Please. What if I need you? I'll be alone." The back of her throat burned. If only Mama were here.
He caressed her cheek. "Pani Nowakowa is right down the road. I'll be back in less than five minutes."
Another pain racked her body. She returned Teodor's crushing grasp. If only the Lord would make it stop. The agony in her body. The agony in her soul.
She focused on breathing until the physical anguish passed. "Go, go. Before another pain comes."
Teodor kissed her brow and hurried from the small bedroom, the scent of the fresh outdoors lingering behind him. She stared at the small crucifix on the wall at the foot of the bed as she smoothed down the soft cotton sheet, hot tears racing down her face. "It's not fair, Lord. Do you hear me? It's not fair." The words tore from her, and she wrenched the sheets. "Why are you ripping this child from me? From us? Teodor hasn't done anything wrong. He doesn't deserve such a terrible thing. And neither do I. Please, please, just make it stop. Save our little one. That's all I want. All I have ever wanted."
Sobs consumed her, every bit as breath stealing as the labor pains. She fought for control as her abdomen tightened. Where were they? She needed her husband. She couldn't do this without him. Only his presence would give her the strength to continue.
The click of the door announced Teodor and Pani Nowakowa's arrival as another full-blown contraction hit. The floor creaked, and the two of them stood on the bedroom's threshold.
The stooped and wrinkled babka shooed Teodor from the room. "You stay outside."
"Nie. I want him here."
"The birth room is no place for a man." Pani Nowakowa lumbered to the bedside, turning sideways in the narrow passage between the bed and the wall. "There now, my dear, remember God is in control. He is the one you want."
Natia nodded. That was the truth, her head told her. But her heart, her soul, said something different. How could God have ordained this for them, all the hardships of these last few years?
Once the pain passed, Pani Nowakowa examined her. "You're almost there. Soon, you will remember your discomfort no more."
Nie, this agony would stay with her for the rest of her life. Just like twice before. Her heart hadn't healed then. This wouldn't be different. "Ah!" How could something so small hurt so much?
The tiny life slipped from her body.
At least not from the child.
"It's a boy. Too young to survive." Pani Nowakowa wrapped Natia's son in a towel and rubbed him. He didn't respond. Didn't squall. Oh, what Natia would give for even one tiny cry from him.
"All right, dear, let's finish up. You've had a rough go of it. You need your rest."
A short while later, with the bleeding stopped, fresh sheets, and a soft, clean nightgown, Pani Nowakowa handed Natia her child. A wisp of light hair, like his father's. Fists curled, fingers complete with the littlest of nails. She stroked his fragile, cold skin. If not for his blue tinge, she would think him just sleeping. So very, very small. Yet so very, very perfect.
Why did she have to lose him?
The babka opened the door and motioned for Teodor to enter before she slipped away.
"See our son." Natia held him out to her husband. "He's perfect."
Teodor's hands shook as he cradled the stillborn. "Beautiful. He looks so much like you."
"Nie. Like you." The lump in her throat swelled until it all but cut off her breath. "I'm sorry. I can't give you a child."
He leaned over and whispered in her hair, "At least I have you and we're together. That's all that matters." Yet his voice was husky, and moisture gathered in his eyes.
* * *
Teodor sat on their bed beside Natia, who held the body of their son. A thin, colorful quilt covered her skinny legs. Light streamed into the bedroom window, over Reverend Jankowski's shoulder, and illuminated the baby's face. The once-retired pastor sprinkled water over the child's forehead. "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I baptize you Andrzej Ludwik Palinski."
Teodor's heart clenched at the words. At the stillness of his son. His hands shook as he wiped the moisture from Andrzej's eyes with a handkerchief and then dabbed Natia's tears.
"He is in heaven. His suffering is over." Pastor Jankowski rubbed Teodor's shoulder.
Natia gave a small, single nod.
Teodor swallowed hard. "Thank you, Reverend. We cling to the Lord's goodness in such times as these." The right words to say, but did he believe them? They'd had so much pain and suffering. This would be their third little mound on the hill.
What if the Germans hadn't killed their village doctor at the beginning of the war? Would this child have survived if he had medical care? Teodor fisted his hands.
With trembling, age-spotted fingers, the good reverend capped the bottle of baptismal water with a clink. "Such faith like that will sustain you. It's all we have these days. Let me know if there is anything I can do. The church is always open for prayer, and I would be happy to share words of comfort."
Natia kissed their son's damp forehead. "You have been good to us, Pastor. We're in your debt."
"Nonsense. That is what the Lord has called me to do." He made the sign of the cross and then showed himself to the door.
"Let me take him now." Teodor held out his hands, and Natia placed the tiny, lightweight child in his arms. If not for the Nazis, this child might have lived.
She was pale, her green eyes shimmering with unshed tears. "What might he have grown up to be? What would his life have looked like?"
Teodor closed his eyes, trying to imagine this little, still boy bursting with life and exuberance. "He would have climbed every tree in the village, come home wet every evening after playing in the creek, and would have snatched every kolaczki cookie you baked."
Natia sniffed. "He would have followed you everywhere. He would have helped you in the fields and would have milked the cow. With him around, you wouldn't have to work so hard."
He opened his eyes and rubbed his wife's soft hand, his eyes burning. "You work hard too. Maybe God will grant us a girl to help you in the kitchen and around the house."
"I can't go through this again. Three times we've lost a child. Two little markers in the field, and soon another one. My heart can't endure another loss." She stroked her still-swollen belly.
His heart couldn't take much more either. Her soft eyes, the downturn of her mouth almost undid him. How could he have prevented this? She did work too much. He should have helped her more around the house and lightened her load.
Natia bit her full, red lips. "And I'm about to suffer another loss when that German family comes from Ukraine and takes over Tata's farm."
Lebensraum. Living space for the Germans, colonists who would push out and enslave the native Slavs.
By all outward appearances, the Lord had forsaken them. Taken their children and their food. They had to produce more and more to stay alive. Made it impossible for him to care for his family. Now they were about to take their farm. Their livelihood. The letter from the Germans lay unopened on the cracked and faded kitchen counter. He didn't have to read the contents to know what it said. But he couldn't tell her.
"Teodor?" She touched the back of his hand, and a tingle raced up his arm.
"You grew so quiet. What's wrong?"
"Nothing." Everything. He stared at his son's flawless, tiny face. Soon, they would have to leave this child and their others behind. But how did he tell her?
Now was not the time. That much he knew. She would need to prepare to leave their home, the only place they'd ever known, but first, she needed to heal, both in body and spirit.
He scrubbed his face as heat built in his chest.
When the Nazis forced them out, would they ever come home?
* * *
The rolling hills spread out in front of Teodor, the expansive sky blue above him, a tree line in the distance. From across the adjoining farm fields, Teodor's father-in-law, Filip Gorecki, waved at him as he picked his way over rough clumps of dirt, sturdy work boots on his feet, a gray cap covering his dark, curly hair.
Teodor waved back and trod over the furrows, the stubble of last year's rye crop rubbing against his brown wool pants. Though the weather had warmed and tiny green sprouts burst from the soil, he hadn't plowed under his fields. There was no point. A weight pressed on his chest. He shook his head to clear away his thoughts and met Filip halfway between their small houses. "Good morning to you."
"Good morning, Teodor." Filip clapped him on the shoulder. "How are you and Natia doing?" He glanced at the three crosses on the hill. His grandchildren. He held up a basket covered with a white napkin. "Helena made some sausage and cabbage soup to help Natia regain her strength."
Teodor took the rustic woven basket, the spice of the sausage tickling his nose. "Dzieki. Natia will like to taste it and see how her sister is coming along as a cook."
"How is she holding up?"
"For two days now, she just lies in bed and stares at the wall."
"Natia's a strong woman, just like my Berta." Filip stared beyond Teodor and into the past. "We lost two children between Natia and Helena. Each time, Berta pulled herself from bed and returned to her life. God was her strength. Even when the cancer ravaged her body, she was the strongest woman I knew. Natia is much like her." Filip shook his head. "What about you?"
"It never gets easier. I thought maybe this time ..." Teodor sucked in a steadying breath and rubbed his rough cheek. How long had it been since he shaved?
The older man stroked his graying mustache. "You look like the horse trampled you."
"I haven't slept much. My mind replays what I could have done differently."
"Don't blame yourself. You're still young. You never know what the Lord has in store."
"Especially these days. How are the preparations for your departure going?"
Filip's features sank, as if he grew a year older with each passing second. "How are we supposed to pack up and leave everything we know and love? I was born on this farm. I brought my new bride here, and she gave birth to our children here. And here I buried her. Now, because the Nazis don't like us, they force us from our homes and into camps."
"I understand." Teodor glanced at the cemetery at the end of the field. "We got our notices the day the baby came. We leave with you."
"Oh, Teodor. How awful. This surely isn't helping Natia."
"I haven't told her."
"You can't put it off."
"How can I deal her this blow when she is in mourning? Right now, she can't handle the news." Right now, he can't handle it. Loss piled on top of loss and threatened to rip him open. How could he walk away from the land that cradled his children?
"The German settlers will arrive no matter what. Give her time to say good-bye."
"I'm worried about her fragile nerves." If he couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, what about his wife? She would shatter, and he wouldn't be able to pick up the pieces. She'd never survive the camp.
"I understand. You'll have to be gentle, but you must tell her. Either you go peacefully, or they force you out. That would be much worse."
"The trauma of not being able to say her farewells might be her undoing. But why now? Why not after she's healed?" As if the wounds from the loss of each child would ever scab over for either of them.
"It's never convenient to leave the only life you've ever known."
Teodor forced himself to breathe in and out. Their tiny blue stucco house lay behind him. In front of him stretched their few acres of farmland where they grew potatoes, beets, and cabbage. The small, red barn stood empty to his left. Not much, but it was theirs.
"If I can do anything, let me know." Filip's voice was husky.
How much worse for him to leave, an old man with two younger children at home. "If only I could stay on my farm." He would go to any lengths to spare Natia the pain of leaving.
"You could if you signed the Volksdeutsche paper stating you're willing to denounce your Polish roots and become Germanized."
"Never. That equals betrayal of our nation, the highest form of treason. I love Poland and would give my life to protect her. I cannot turn my back on her."
"Not even for your wife?"
Teodor strode in a circle, kicking at stones. Could he do that to shield Natia and save their home? "It goes against all I've ever believed. And everyone in Piosenka would hate me. In doing so, I would make myself and my wife outcasts."
"I'm not sure there will be many Poles left here soon."
"And I doubt the ethnic Germans would accept us. In the end, we would lose all we've worked for anyway. Not even for Natia could I sign that paper. We must be willing to suffer to remain loyal to Poland."
Filip stared at the brown earth for a long while and then sighed. "I'll send Helena over later to sit with Natia. Heart wrenching as it is, she'll come out on the other side."
A small smile tugged at Teodor's lips. "And as stubborn as the winter's snows. But two blows in quick succession could be too much for her."
"I'll pray the Lord will give you the right words to say at the right time."
The men parted, and Teodor carried the basket with the soup back to the house. He entered the cool interior and pulled off his heavy dark-brown wool coat, his eyes needing several seconds to adjust to the dimness. "Natia, look what Helena made for us. Some cabbage soup, according to your father. It smells delicious. She didn't burn it this time." At the enticing aroma, his stomach rumbled.
After a few moments, Natia shuffled from the bedroom, still in her housecoat, her brown hair disheveled, a curl over one eye. "Do you want me to heat it for your lunch?" Dark half-moons underscored her green eyes.
"Nie, you sit down. I'll warm it." He moved about the kitchen, so small that a few steps took him from the door to the little stove on the far side of the room. Within moments, heat bathed them, and the sweet aroma of sausage filled the air. Teodor sat beside her while they waited for it to warm. "I'm glad to see you up."
"I want to stay in bed forever. But I can't. There are chores to be done. You'll be planting soon."
"You're remarkable." He rubbed her shoulder.
"Like Mama. Life hit her hard, but until her final illness, she always got back up. I also know there is something you are keeping from me."
He shook his head, probably more than necessary.
"You're not sleeping. In the middle of the night, I hear you pacing. You tread on that squeaky floorboard in front of the sink."
"If Poland ever needs spies, I'll give them your name."
A brief flash of amusement lit her eyes and then faded like the sunset. "What is it?"
"There is time. Right now, you concentrate on getting your health back, and let me do the worrying."
"So whatever you have to tell me isn't good?"
He should have his tongue cut from his mouth for not watching his words. "Don't press me." He rose and stirred the thick soup.
She came behind him and wrapped him in an embrace. Her touch was warm. He should be comforting her, but instead, she did the soothing. "Please, tell me. Don't leave me to wonder."
His stomach fluttered, and not from hunger. "Your family is almost ready to leave. Tata told me they have packed what they could and given away what they couldn't." He was a coward for not saying the words, but maybe she would catch his meaning and he wouldn't have to utter them.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "When the Heart Sings"
Copyright © 2018 Christine Cain.
Excerpted by permission of Gilead Publishing.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
~When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma.~ A touching look into one of the lesser known events of the Holocaust—the deportation of thousands of Polish people from their homes into “work camps.” A story of so much heartache and trial, and yet the great, immense hope that comes from being able to trust God, even in the midst of that trial. A story of the power of friendship, and simple human kindness. A story of Love, and finding peace and light, even when all you can see is darkness. A story of music, and the stories it tells. This book was powerful and hopeful. It was an incredible (and well-written) look into the Holocaust, and the impact it had in the lives of so many innocent people. I thought the author did an amazing job telling this story, not only of the trials of the Holocaust, but also, the struggles these women had with infertility during this time. She addresses these topics honestly, shows the heartache and sorrow and darkness during this time, but she also shows that there is hope, even when everything is falling apart, and the world seems to be a wholly hopeless place. She shows that there is hope in the God who never leaves us or forsakes us. I highly recommend this beautiful story. ****FOUR STARS****
1943 Poland, the Nazis, the war camps and how mistreated the people were made this a heart tugging, sad yet inspirational story of survival and love. Following this family through the prison camp they were taken to instead of where they were told they were going made this war story so real. This author takes you right into their midst, the horror and then the triumph of this family. I requested this book through NetGalley, no review was required, my review is voluntary.
Author Liz Tolsma has written another heartfelt WWII novel, and what a story it is! I have read a lot of WWII fiction, but hers seem to be a style all of their own. There is so much rawness, and reality in this novel that it pulls on your heartstrings for sure. The characters are life-like, and their struggles true to life as well. The atrocities that happened to the Polish and Jewish people is horrendous, and hard to read about. And on the same hand, the daringness and bravery others showed to help them is so admirable. This story is primarily Natia’s story. Her husband’s as well. Another character we get to know is the German woman, Elfriede who keeps Natia in her employ. They form a friendship, and both share a deep love for the child Natia found. I really liked Elfriede – her story was sad, though in different ways from Natia’s. She was naive’, and rather innocent almost like a child herself. She came into her own strength though that was impressive, and her decision at the end was painful and heroic. I know she was the side character, but I really enjoyed her, and I think maybe bonded more with her than the main characters. But I did like the main characters, and felt connected to their plight as well. There was on incident at the end though, regarding Natia’s attitude that I didn’t care for. It felt selfish and flippant in light of the situation. The faith strand was present, though maybe a bit lightly so. I did like what was there though – it felt realistic, and the message was good. All in all, a very well written book that deals delicately with the tough reality that was the war!
It has taken me a couple of days to try to write this review, because this book has taken a piece of my heart. I loved the first book in the series, but after visiting the Holocaust Museum a few months ago this one was even more impactful. I couldn’t read it all at once but in segments so I could digest it. It is hard to take in as the research and writing is so stellar that you feel like you are there. It is heartbreaking but also gives us hope that no matter our circumstances God is in control. Liz Tolsma has become my favorite historical author since discovering her. Her characters are so well developed and grow in the story. I wish I could give this 10 stars as it one of my favorite books this year and I will treasure its contents. Natia and Teodor will stay with me for a long while. I won a copy of this book. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
When the Heart Sings is not only a book that entertained and held me spellbound, but it touched me in a profound way. The Nazi-occupied Poland of World War II is not an easy setting to read about, but Liz Tolsma’s exquisitely written narrative is one of hope. I was emotionally caught up from the very beginning, and although I was anxious to see how things turned out, I hated to turn the last page. The scenario of a Polish woman living in a German home and trying to protect a Jewish baby is filled with tension. I grieved with Natia over the loss of her unborn child, and then when she and Teodor were forced to leave their beloved home shortly thereafter. The squalid conditions in train cars felt so very real and the separation of families upon arrival was pure agony. But the joy Natia found in music and the way she used it to communicate with Teodore in the factory dormitory was delightful. God’s grace shines brightest in the darkest of nights, and that is beautifully reflected in this story. A steady thread of faith and hope is visible in the seemingly hopeless times when the Enemy works to destroy that faith. Natia and Teodore, as well as others – such as the wife of the camp overseer and a local doctor – are good people trying to do the right thing when the personal risk is great. I especially enjoyed the unlikely friendship between Natia and the overseer’s wife, Elfriede – one that grows over shared loss in spite of the language barrier. When the Heart Sings is a moving and uplifting story that will long stay with me. Highly recommended. I received a copy of this book through JustRead Tours and Gilead Publishing. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
The second in the Music of Hope series by Liz Tolsma, When the Heart Sings is a perfect choice for readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially when it takes place during World War II. The story delves into the experience of Polish Christians, Natia and Teodor. The couple is immensely likeable, and their experience throughout the book tugged at my heartstrings. From start to finish, it is emotionally captivating, a page-turner that does not disappoint. I recommend it. Thanks to JustRead Tours, I received a complimentary copy of When the Heart Sings and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.
When the Heart Sings was a very emotional read for me and at times I had to just set it down and do something else while I pondered what I read. Taking place in Poland during World War 2, this story highlighted the suffering and persecution of the Poles under the Nazi occupation. The hatred of their race ranked right up there with the hatred of the Jewish people. This story focuses on a married couple who have seen enough sadness already and yet their lives take a much darker turn. Reading about their trials had my emotions all over and though this story is a sad one, especially in the way people treat others, there was an underlying theme of hope throughout. Many tough questions were asked by the characters like why does God let evil things happen and why do the innocent have to suffer? However, I think it all boils down to trust and faith and believing that God loves us more than we can even imagine. This was a good read about a dark time and place in history, one that we should not forget and one with many deep thoughts to ponder. I received a complimentary copy of this novel I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.
When the Heart Sings is full of universal lessons for all of us: forgiveness, patience, and finding friendship in the unlikeliest of places. When Polish Christians Natia and Teodor are forced from their home and deported to a German labor camp, they endure very different but equally heartwrenching circumstances. Teodor, always under scrutiny by Erich, the camp overseer, faces extra cruelty and work demands. Natia, living as the housekeeper in the overseer's home, faces a very different set of challenges. Home alone all day with Elfriede, Erich's wife, she is forced to take over all housework. As they slowly learn to communicate, Elfriede and Natia discover that they have more in common than they realize. When Natia brings a Jewish baby into the home, she and Elfriede are determined to love the baby and to keep it safe from Erich at all costs. The way that this plays out and the sacrifices that are made are truly inspiring. The supporting characters in this story also portray so well those who worked secretly in the background to aid the helpless victims of the war. One of those characters in the story said my favorite line in the whole book: "We look at our circumstances and see things as not good. But we don't see the picture clearly, as the Lord does. He knows what's going on. Things happen just the way he has planned they will. We aren't to find our joy and contentment in people or in our circumstances, but in him." When I read that, I had to put down the book and think for a minute about how truly blessed I am. It's so easy to get caught up in my everyday problems, and some of them are genuinely stressful, but truly, there is nothing that I can't get through with the Lord's help. I've never been good at praising the Lord in times of trial, but if victims of the Holocaust can do it then so should I. I'm so grateful to Liz Tolsma for this touching reminder! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gilead Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
When the Heart Sings is the second book in Liz Tolsma's Music of Hope series, and she has done an awesome job with both stories. Both the horrific and the heroic elements of World War II and the people so drastically impacted come through in her true-to-life characters and their stories. The awful suffering and conflict -- physical, emotional, political -- that the Germans and the Poles experience in this well-crafted story are surely representative of what was happening in the hearts and lives of people at this dreadful time in history. Life-changing and life-threatening decisions have to be made by the characters on all sides of that conflict in this story. Doing their part to fight the battle and doing the right thing takes a variety of paths and sometimes requires ignoring which side they are on. The common experiences of mothers -- and fathers -- who have lost a child bring to light the human element that is not defined by which side a person fights for in times of war. The threads of hope in God and in their fellow men that keep them going in spite of the dark days tugged strongly at this reader's heart and mind. And the reminder of how deeply music can touch a soul was a beautiful major element of the story. I highly recommend When the Heart Sings to anyone who is a fan of well-written WWII fiction or anyone who loves a tale of hope in the dark hours of life. Thanks to JustRead Publicity for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.
have adored Liz's books but haven't read any in a couple of years. I missed the first book in this series, unfortunately. I love the look she takes at WWII and the many layers that were happening during that time. I have learned so much by reading her books. I honestly didn't realize the scope of Germany's reach and all the lives they ruined, or tried to. This is book beautiful. Natia is a heartbreaking character and mother's or those who wish to be will identify with her. Teodor is a strong man and only wants his family reunited. I, of course, enjoy the inclusion of music in this book. If you like stories based in WWII times you will appreciate this book. A copy of this book was given to me. All opinions are my own.
Hope in the midst of despair; friendship and love in the midst of hatred and evil. World War II can be a difficult time period to visit in novels. Granted, there are some amazing stories that have been told. But often they are challenging to read because we’d almost rather not know what happened during the war. And yet we must. When the Heart Sings not only deals with the realities of life in Poland during the war, but it also delves into the emotional heartbreak of infertility and stillbirth — a struggle that bonds two unlikely women, yet might be hard for some to read. However, the understanding and hope within the story might also prove to be a healing balm. With descriptions and pacing that will draw you right into the midst of the conflict, When the Heart Sings is an amazing story of perseverance, sacrifice, love, and hope. Prepare to have your heart seriously tugged, but don’t miss this one! (I received a complimentary copy of this novel. The thoughts expressed here are entirely my own.)
Chalk up another excellent WWII story for Liz Tolsma! One of the interesting aspects is the perspective from which Liz chooses to tell this story which is based on historical facts; it is a Christian romance or perhaps it is a romantic thriller because you are anxiously awaiting the turn of the page as you follow some of the events. Natia and Teodor are a young married couple who are caught in the tragic whirlwind of Nazi occupation of Poland. The pacing and tension kept me moving on to the next chapter, while learning more about each character as historical events unfolded. Having also greatly appreciated the first book in this series, I am looking forward to book three. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This is the first book by Liz Tolsma that I have read and I’m incredibly glad that I did. I love historical fiction/historical romance and I have found another favorite author in Liz Tolsma. Her writing style is lyrical and musical, so befitting the title of the book and the series. There is so much pain, aching sorrow, and nostalgic sadness as Teodor and Natia navigate their lives away from their hometown in Poland during the Nazi regime at/near a work camp. The heartbreak of miscarriage and infertility is gently addressed in the plot. Even in the midst of evil and atrocities against fellow man, Teodor and Natia cling to their sweet and tender love, their unbreakable bond through music, and hope that God holds out for everyone who believes. Secondary characters of Elfriede and Pawel are unforgettable. Though it is not an easy read due to the nature of what Teodor and Natia have to live through, the book is a worthy read. I was given a copy of the book by Gilead Publishing via NetGalley and was not required to post a review. All comments and opinions are solely my own.
Stunningly poignant detail. When Germany annexed Poland they placed little value in the Polish people. They forced them to be slaves working in their war factories and lived in their homes. But God wove threads through the painful circumstances, bringing small miracles to his faithful. They also find out that in their differences they are yet the same in many ways. Nadia is made to work as a servant to a German couple. As bad as that is, in some ways it's a blessing. She learns that, like her, the wife previously lost her baby. Nadia has a beautiful voice that brings comfort and helps her to communicate with her husband who is imprisoned in a labor camp along the route she walks. The story is told with incredible detail. It will have you holding your breath and pull your heart strings. Three million Polish Jews perished. Three million Polish Christians did also. Pray that it's never forgotten! Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and Netgalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” #MusicOfHope #NetGalley
Having read Tolsma’s work before, I knew I was in for a difficult, emotional read, but one that would be worth the journey it would take me on. That was indeed the case; the story of Polish Christians forced from their land and into work camps was a painful story, but the glimmers of God’s goodness, even in such evil times, painted a picture of hope and resilience long after a person is pushed to what he or she believes to be the limits of endurance. As always, the story is well-crafted and solidly written. The prose is beautiful, even as what it relates is heartbreaking. Families are torn apart for no reason other than their nationality, children are left orphaned and hunted for their religion. But what will stick with me most from this story is how God is involved in every life, even when it seems He is so far away. It is not uncommon for someone to ask the question, “How could a loving God allow something like this?” but the characters soon begin to realize that He has never left them alone, providing in small ways to let them know that His presence can provide joy even amid suffering. I highly recommend this book for adults and up—it is an important story that reminds us to never forget the past, to remember the sacrifices made many years ago by people we will never meet this side of Heaven. It is not easy to read but is well worth the time spent with this inspirational novel. I received a review copy of this book from the author and publisher but was under no obligation to post a positive review. The opinions expressed are both honest and my own.
When the Heart Sings takes place in Nazi Germany controlled Poland during World War II. Teodor and Natia are a Polish couple who have been evacuated from their home and sent to a labor camp. Natia has just given birth to their stillborn child and hasn't fully recovered when they must leave. Upon their arrival, Natia collapses and a German woman (Elfriede), wife of a Nazi officer sees her, takes pity on her, and insists that she come work in their home. The two form an unlikely, but beautiful friendship that shows that even in the most difficult of circumstances and despite their language and cultural divide, two people can look past those things and help each other...and others. Every page of this story is heart wrenching and completely captivating! Set in a period of our history that brought about so much heartache, this story shows how God is always present and brings goodness to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. His joy can be found in us when we put our trust in Him! Thank you, Ms. Tolsma for such a touching, beautiful story! I received a complementary copy of this book through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
A touching and tender story Through most of this book, I had tears threatening. The author did such a great job communicating their fears, their pains, and their hopes. Teodor and Natia are a young Polish couple who have only been married for a few years and yet in that time have experienced tremendous grief at the loss of three babies who never had a chance to breathe. When notice is given to them that they have to cede their farm to a German family and report to a labor camp, Natia has not yet even healed from her most recent miscarriage. The love these two have for one another is so tender and sweet. It is the kind of love that every girl dreams of. The kind of love that we are told to show as husbands and wives. Their separation broke my heart. Teodor was such an amazing, valiant hero. Before they left for the labor camp, he went to the grocer to settle his bill there. Amazing! And he ended up being a leader in the labor camp, an inspiration to the others when the Nazis attempted to divide them. Even in his weakness, he found his strength in God. I loved the way that Natia was able to reach Teodor by singing as she walked past the factory, and how despite his lack of musical ability, he would reply. The way they knew so many songs and could communicate things through the lyrics because of that bond was touching. Despite the fear and the uncertainty for the Polish people at the time, and despite the violence and cruelty of the Nazi officers, Natia and Teodor were able to show kindness to those around them and to spread hope. None of the events seemed unrealistic or contrived and the violence that was conveyed was done so in a manner that was not overdone or gratuitous. Fans of Christian and historical fiction are sure to enjoy this touching and tender story. Read with a Preview at AmongTheReads.net I was given a free copy of this item. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
This story captures your heart and soul from the very first chapter. A heart wrenching story of the struggle of the Polish people during WWII. The author has written a story so vivid and interesting. The characters come to life and you feel as if you are with them. Teodor and Natia's story is one of love and faith. They face trials and tribulations and overcome so much pain and sorrow. While captured by the Germans, Natia finds a way to communicate to Teodor, by singing and he returns answers by singing back. Until one day he does not answer....I could not put this book down, and when I had to put it down, I thought about it until I could pick it up again. I loved this book, and look forward to Liz Tolsma's next book. This is a book everyone should read.
In this second book of the Music of Hope series, Tolsma takes us to Poland during World War II German occupation. Teodor and Natia's small village has just about been depleted of Poles as one by one they have been deported to be German factory workers to assist the war effort. Now Teodor and Natia have received their deportation notice. Natia is just recovering from her third miscarriage. Tolsma's detailed and vivid descriptions of the Polish situation as Germany took over their country and either eliminated the population or deported them brought me right into World War II with its sights, smells, sounds etc. Natia was such a strong woman for the position she was placed in as servant to a German officer and his wife and separated from Teodor as he worked in the factory. Her ingenuity in both keeping in touch with Teodor through her songs even to the point of choosing songs that would let him know exactly how she was feeling and shielding Dominick's true identify from the German officer and his wife was incredible. Elfriede, the German officer's wife, grew and changed so much as she realized that Erich truly was a bad man (his atrocities and incivilities to the Poles was unimaginable) and as she watched the love and strength between Teodor and Natia. I loved the way Tolsma used music in both of the books in this series to drive the storyline and show how it can offer hope when things feel hopeless. Her spiritual content was excellent as well. Highly recommend this series. ** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gilead Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Another divine appointment with a book. This book is filled with excellent storytelling and takes place during WW2 in war torn Poland. I truly cared about the characters and I related closely to parts of the storyline. The pregnancy losses and yearning for a baby were realistic and written with compassion. Because of my German and Polish heritage, I enjoyed being immersed into each of the cultures as I read this well written book. This was such a difficult and turbulent time for Poland and it's people. Tremendous amounts of suffering and loss became routine and even expected. But somehow, those who had faith, had hope. Their persevering hope led to joy. I was so thrilled to find that my favorite Bible verse was used to comfort the characters who were suffering greatly. Psalm 30:5 Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. The word joy was used throughout the book and it just so happens to be my favorite word. Through many difficult experiences and tough lessons, the main characters learned that momentary happiness can in no way compete with or take the place of everlasting joy. I loved how a needy, little orphan provided hope, joy and a reason to keep on living to two, sad, childless women. The horrible war set them up to be enemies, but God had other, much better plans for Natia and Elfriede. Following the example and prodding of God to forgive the seemingly unforgivable, was a powerful and life changing experience for Teodore. I loved how music sung from the heart was used to worship God, to encourage and communicate with others, to calm children, and to defuse ugly and volatile situations. Songs from the heart pointed those who needed it most to God. Both singers and listeners were blessed and encouraged. Thank-you to NetGalley and Gilead Publishing for a copy of this book that touched my heart.
When the Heart Sings is an emotional, heart lifting historical story. This story is based during World War II in Poland. This period of time and the horrors that occurred to the Jews and Polish people are easy to forget as time moves farther away from this period. However, Ms. Tolsma tells a story that honestly is hard to read, but you know is an accurate portrayal of what occurred during this time (and probably worse). The message throughout this book is one of hope and love even in the direst circumstances and how God is our ultimate source of strength. The story is based on Teodor and Natia, a married couple and how they were separated at a labor camp. They had struggled with infertility and miscarriages and did not have any children. This story begins in 1943 and continues until the end of WWII. I highly recommend this book! You will not be disappointed. This love story examines how faith in God can help you persevere in difficult circumstances and how to find hope during these times. ***I was given a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest opinion. Even though I received this copy free, this is my own opinion.
This was a hard book for me to read, but it was worth it. It deals with how the non-jews was treated by the Nazi's and it was heartbreaking. There is so much emotion in the book it was hard to put down. This book is a "must read". I can't wait to read more by Liz Tolsma. Thank you Gilead Publishing via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. This is my honest opinion of this book.
A book that made me feel like I was there in real life, or watching a movie, and knowing all the way that it is based on actual history, yes, it really happened. What a wonderful job the author did telling this story, that should never be forgotten, and as she said at the end of the book Poland is not telling students of the history of what happened to them. With all the atrocities that happen the characters have a great faith in God and country, and a lot is displayed through song. This is a riveting page-turner, and right from the beginning you won’t know whom will survive to the end. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Gilead, and was not required to give a positive review.
Liz Tolsma powerfully conveys the emotions of a turbulent time as she tells the story of a young Polish Christian couple that had been sent to the labor camps in occupied Poland. This poignant story is mostly told from the different viewpoints of Natia and Teodor. Teodor is forced to work in the labor camp while Natia has been assigned the task of serving on the home of the camp overseer. An unlikely friendship develops between Natia and the overseer's wife. They find they share a common sorrow that unites them as they work together to save a young child. This is the kind of story that will speak to your heart. It is a story of survival during a bleak time that is filled with extreme hardship and despair. Tolsma conveys a powerful message that joy can be found in the midst of darkness. As I read this story, it made me wonder if my faith would be strong enough to find the joy amidst such tragedy. One of my favorite quotes: "Joy only came through dependence on the Lord and Him alone. Joy was forward looking, toward heaven." I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley and the author/publisher. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own.