Novel Idea: Kathi Linz


Name: Kathi Linz

Job title: Information services assistant at the Jackson County Public Library

What’s the name of the book and author you are recommending?

I’m reading “Karolina’s Twins” by Ronald Balson.

What made you want to pick up this book in the first place?

My mother-in-law recommended it, and I generally trust her judgment.

Once you got into the book, what made you want to keep reading it?

Ronald Balson is an excellent storyteller. Once I was enmeshed in the story, I looked for more books by the same author. After I read 100 pages, I looked in the back of the book to see how many pages there were. I ran across the author’s note that said this book came out of an interview with a lady who actually lived the events described in the story. Call it fiction based on a true story.

Once you finished the book, what did you like about it?

I was amazed that people who were lost during the Holocaust can be found if they are still living. I had no idea that so many record sources were available to help families find family members.

What is the book about?

“Karolina’s Twins” is the third book in a six-book series. Each of these books has something to do with secrets stemming from World War II. The main characters are Catherine Lockhart, a Chicago attorney, and her investigator husband, Liam Taggart. However, there is no denying that the driving force in this book is Lena Woodward, a Holocaust survivor. Lena is looking for twin girls (she still calls them babies 70 years later). She says her best friend, Karolina, bore two babies during the Nazi occupation of their Polish town. Most of the Jewish children were rounded up and put on trains. Supposedly, they were to be sent to “children’s camps” where they would be educated as German children. Instead, they were killed. Lena and Karolina protected the children for months until their ghetto was emptied and they were forced to board trains for work camps. The two women were well aware the babies would be killed as soon as they arrived at the camp. They took the only possible option to attempt to save the babies’ lives. Lena’s son, Arthur, is persuaded the whole thing is a delusion and his mother is suffering from dementia. He takes her to court to have her declared incompetent and to have her committed to a home. Meanwhile, Liam is out searching for evidence that Karolina and the children ever existed. You may imagine that finding people who were moved over and over again during one of the most chaotic times in European history would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. These are the questions that have to be answered during the search: Could the babies have survived at all considering the circumstances? Who would have taken in Jewish children under a Nazi occupation at extreme risk to themselves and their families? How do you find someone if you don’t know where they are or what their names might currently be? Is Arthur correct about his mother’s mental state? Why did Lena never mention the babies until only four years ago?

Why would you recommend this book to others?

This book is a stunner, and especially so when you learn it is based on a true story. Ronald Balson is an exceptional storyteller. There are twists in the story you’ll never see coming. Once you begin reading, you’ll have trouble putting the book down until you find out how it ends. The library has the whole Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart series in stock. Each book can be read as a standalone novel, but you might run across references to previous stories as you read along. For instance, in “Karolina’s Twins,” you find that Lena only comes to Lockhart and Taggart because she had heard of them through Ben Solomon from the story in “Once We Were Brothers.” But Lena’s story doesn’t depend on anything that happened in the previous book.

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