I’ve read quite a bit of historical fiction set in Nazi Europe, but SOMEONE NAMED EVA by Joan M. Wolf takes a look at a part of World War II that I never knew about. Eva is really Milada – a young Czech girl who has blond hair and blue eyes that allow her to pass as a German. The Nazis raid her village and steal her from her family; they take her name, her language, and her very identity in an attempt to remake her into one of them.
This book is beautifully written, and I simply ached for Milada, renamed Eva, every time I turned a page. Wolf writes with a sensitivity that allows us to understand how a young Czech girl could feel herself slipping into another identity.
The characters in this historical novel seem painfully real, and the author’s extensive research, which took her to Czechoslovakia in search of her roots, is evident throughout the book. The author’s note explains how that research is woven into the novel, though it never feels like you’re being fed facts while you’re reading. No matter how much you’ve read about the Holocaust, you’ll come away with a new perspective. Mostly, though, your heart will break for Milada.
Joan Wolf’s debut novel provides a unique perspective on a much-written-about chapter in world history. More than that, though, it provides readers with a heartbreaking and thought provoking journey through the human spirit – at its best and at its worst. SOMEONE LIKE EVA is a poignant book about survival, redemption, holding on, and remembering who you are.