Book: Cross My Heart
Author: Carmen Reid
I love History and the Second World War is a particularly interesting period so I was quite excited to read this book-the Belgian Resistance is not a part of the Second World War that I know anything about (or at least I didn’t know anything about it before this book) and so the book was a nice way to learn something new about a period I was already interested in. I had never read a Carmen Reid book before this one, I just picked it up because the subject matter interested me and I liked this book so much that it’s safe to say if I come across any of her other books, then I will probably give them a go. Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Brussels 1940. 15 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 join the German 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……
The best part of this book is without a doubt Nicole. She’s such a strong, feisty main character and refuses to give up even when her situation seems hopeless and she’s so inspiring as a character and I found that I was always rooting for her through the book which I love in a character. The book has action and suspense and as with any World War Two novel, it’s obviously sad in parts. I was gripped through the whole book, always wanting to know what happened to Nicole next. The book also has an element of romance to it as Nicole joins the Resistance with her crush/later boyfriend Anton Morel but this is well played, just enough so that you feel for these characters and their relationship but not so much that you get irritated at either one and the romance ties in with the plot rather than the plot being based around the romance. I didn’t guess the identity of “The Hawk” (a bomb maker in the resistance) so when his identity was revealed it was a real shock to me and a great twist.
The book also has a real moral value running through the book which is shown by the actions and thoughts of Nicole, and the actions of the Nazis as well-even though you are totally on Nicole’s side, she does question the morality of her choice to be a resister, even though she knows the Nazis are acting wrongly, does killing them make her the same as them?. This really adds to the book I think, because it shows that Nicole isn’t heartless, she’s simply fighting for what she thinks is right.
I don’t really know much about Belgium, having only been there a few times but I found that Reid’s writing really helped me picture it and the concentration camp was described very well as well which helped me as I’ve obviously never been to Ravensbruck. It really helped me learn more about the Belgian Resistance and their part in the war as I’d never really known about it before and it surprised me how much they did and how young the members of the resistance were.
There were other characters in this book as well as Nicole that I loved-her grandmother for starters was great-such a feisty old woman!. Her teacher Monsieur Durance (who is also a member of the resistance) was also a great character and obviously Anton her boyfriend. What I liked about this book was that the descriptions of Ravensbruck were just enough to convey the horror of concentration camps but not overdone. The balance between Nicole’s pride at fighting for her country and her guilt at possibly putting her family in danger was also well done. It was also a well written book with lots of description and Nicole’s experiences were harsh and well conveyed but it wasn’t as distressing as some other World War Two novels that I’ve read before. It was refreshing to read a World War Two novel that wasn’t about the experiences of the Jews or German people. Cross My Heart is more than just a story about war though, it’s a story about romance, courage, fierce determination in adversity and loyalty. It’s the sort of story that could appeal to anyone simply because the plot is so strong.
Overall this was a great book and Reid has made me interested in reading more about the Belgian resistance as it’s amazing how courageous these teenagers are-yes Nicole isn’t real but she represents some very real teenagers who really were just as brave as she was in this book-it never fails to amaze me how incredible people can be and it gives you hope when you read stories like this that for all the evil people like the Nazis in the world, there are amazingly brave people willing to stand up for what they think is right. So if you want a book with a strong female character, a great plot about a period that was full of loss but also of people doing extraordinary things then this is definitely the book for you. I was seriously amazed by how great this book was, so if anyone knows any other books on this subject, or any other books by Carmen Reid then let me know.
My rating: 5/5
My next book review will be on A Fault In Our Stars-John Green