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Reviewed by Tiffany Ferrell for Readers' Favorite
Karen Batshaw’s Light and Shadows tells the story of two people who meet under terrible circumstances. Andreas was eight years old when the Turkish army invaded his home town of Smyrna. As Greek Christians living there, they are forced to flee and many die at the brutal hands of their invaders. Andreas loses his whole family to death and murder before he catches a boat alone that takes him away. One night, finding shelter in a shed, he meets Rebecca Solomon, an eight-year-old Jewish girl whose family owns the shed. The two become friends as Andreas gains her trust and she convinces him to stay with the Greek Christian woman she apprentices for. The Matsakis', who weren’t blessed with children, take Andreas in and raise him as their own. Fast forward to the late 30s and early 40s and Andreas has become a doctor with a good reputation. The Bulgarians invade Kavala and the persecution of the Jews begins. Allied with Nazi Germany, times are becoming more and more dangerous for the Solomon family. Meanwhile, Andreas and Rebecca are in love but know that a Christian and a Jew cannot marry. Andreas offers the papers that will rename her as well as designate her a Christian. Can Rebecca renounce her faith? Or will she join her family being sent with thousands of others to Poland?
I was absolutely fascinated by this book. I think Karen Batshaw created an amazingly powerful story that brings the brutality and realness of both events home. You often read books set during World War I and II but the in-between is always left out. I will admit that I have learned something new about what happened to the Greek Christians in Asia Minor during the 1920s. Andreas’ journey has made me want to learn more about this period in history. Very well written with a sad but bittersweet feel, Light and Shadows tugs at your heart and reminds you of the horror that has happened in this world.