Author: Carmen Reid Publisher: Random House Chidren’s Published: August 1st 2013 Pages: 384 Format: Paperback Source:: Review Copy from Publisher Add It:Goodreads, Amazon UK, TBD
Summary: Brussels, 1940. Fifteen-year-old Nicole watches as the Nazis invade Belgium. Determined not to stand by as her country is brought to its knees, Nicole vows to fight back and joins the Belgian Resistance. Under her new alias – Coco – Nicole embarks on a dangerous new life as a spy, where the only question is not if you’ll be caught, but when…
As soon as I heard about this book I was instantly intrigued. I have an odd fascination with war books, and yet I tend not to read that many of them! I prefer the second world war but there is just something about fictional stories set admist a war that just pulls me straight towards a book. This book was one that I found to be incredibly unique and one that pulled me in right from the very start. I started this book a long time ago, then put the book down but when I returned to it and started back from the beginning, I found myself unable to put the book back down again. It was an intense read that grips you and forces you to become truly involved in the story. I am incredibly glad that I went back to this book as it is now one of my favourites and I know that I’ll be keeping an eye out for anything else that Carmen Reid publishes.
Interwoven around a country that is being invaded by the Nazi’s is a young girl who isn’t willing to simply back down and let these German invaders destroy her home and her way of living. She’s angry and resentful and refuses to be the girl who just sits back and watches the horror around her. Thus she joins the resistance and begins an incredible journey that is truly inspiring. The plot of this book was absolutely stunning. It was full of tension, kept you right on the edges of your toes and really had you gasping for more. I was pleading with the book that things would change, or work out better as soon as they could. I obviously knew the war was going to end eventually, but that just made my hope for Nicole that much stronger. I just needed her to survive through it all because she deserved that and so much more. The only issue I had with the plot was at the very last chapter. There was so much intensity throughout the novel that the last chapter felt somewhat off-balance with the rest of the book. It was definitely needed and summed up the book perfectly, but it also fell a little flat for me which was a shame.
But She Isn’t
Nicole may well be one of my favourite characters. She is strong, stubborn, resiliant, inspiring and powerful. She is also vulnerable, weak and rash and it is these flaws that make her so likable. How she survives isn’t because it’s molded into her very core, but because she overcomes her fears and thinks about everything she is doing for other people. I found her to be a character that I very much came to care about and wanted to just urge on in the best ways as well as pull her from her world and place her somewhere where she would be safe and secure. This is a character that would truly inspire you to do the right thing, even if it didn’t end well for you. Every other character in this book was well-written and most were those that you could truly root for. Seen through the eyes of Nicole it is easy to see why she holds them close to her heart. I adored Anton, Monsieur Durance, Hope, her mother, her grandmother, her father, Raven, Plum, and I also found Effie to be heart-breaking. Carmen Reid has just managed to make these characters so realistic and loveable.
There was something so rich and raw about the style of writing in this novel. Carmen has managed to carve the details of the war into a setting that sets your teeth on edge and makes you incredibly grateful that you weren’t alive during that time but also that you have ancestors who helped to fight against the horrible crimes of the German Nazi’s. The world she’s written feels so real and incredible, and I couldn’t help but imagine myself in Nicole’s place and shuddering every time I did. I cannot say how accurate the details were having not been taught about what happened in Belgium during the war, but it felt accurate enough for the story so I think that definitely makes up for it. I loved the way that Carmen eases you into the setting before throwing you fully into this nitty gritty world that is full of torture, hate, and just despicable living conditions. The setting really adds to the story and it wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful if the writing of this world fell flat and therefore it is easy to state that Carmen did a brilliant job re-creating this historical moment.
Cross My Heart is a book that is full of inspirational moments, powerful scenes, and incidents that will take your breath away. It is moving, heart-wrenching, intense and utterly entertaining and I am incredibly glad that I took the time to read this book. It was incredibly well-written and takes you on an exceptional journey that will stick with you for days after you’ve finished reading this book. I have a feeling that Nicole will be a character that will inspire many people and that this is a book which will remind people of how lucky they are to be in the position they are currently in and not in the middle of a war zone. It is a book that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys war stories, as well as to anyone who wants to read a book full of tension, that grips you and grabs you into the story, and one that makes it impossible to simply put the book down. I truly enjoyed reading this book and simply cannot wait for the next book that Carmen writes. If you’re looking for an inspired book to read, I would definitely suggest giving this book a try.
** I received this copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. **