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“White Rose, Black Forest” is billed as a historical fiction, but it has all the makings of a thriller. Author Eoin Dempsey presents Franka Gerber with a dilemma right from the beginning, then continues to turn up the heat as the story progresses. Although Franka understands the danger that could come from her actions, she continues to do what she feels is right.

The story is told through the eyes of several characters, although Franka is the main focus. While we do learn of some of the motivations of the American John Lynch, it is through Franka’s eyes that readers are swept into a country consumed by conflicting emotions. The author allows her to speak the thoughts that must have been hidden by many German citizens in 1944. Even though her life has led her to her current predicament, everything is still not black and white, and Franka wrestles at times with what she should do.

Mr. Dempsey offers descriptive passages at the same time, presenting interesting pictures with his use of words. For instance, we are told a used parachute blowing in the wind is “…licking at the snow like a thirsty animal.” The life-threatening description of the bombing of a German city thrusts readers into the action, and it is hard not to be fearful of what may happen to the people exposed to the possibility of instantaneous death. While I wasn’t always happy with the dialogue (at times, it felt a bit stilted), the characters stayed true to their basic motivations.

As stated above, this historical fiction book turns into a thriller. Her choices place Franka in danger as the Gestapo quickly become a larger threat, which pushes the book to a breakneck pace as it heads toward the conclusion. Four stars.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 1, 2018
WHAT DO WE HAVE? A psychological thriller? A true war story based on facts with fictitious characters? A suspense? Some of all of these. What we have is a mix of storyteller and history teacher with many long expository intrusions, flashbacks and author-voiced settings.

PLOT gripped me immediately. We go deep into Franka's emotions as she slogs into the Black Forest woods, deep in snow, to end her life. After all, she's lost all her loved ones to war and the Gestapo. So she trudges to her "farewell location," carrying her dead father's revolver. She stumbles upon "a body, crumpled like a bunch of rags in the pristine white." From his Luftwaffe captain's jacket and the ruffled parachute, Franka's knows "he's one of the monsters who had destroyed this country and taken away everyone she had ever loved."

DILEMMA. The airman is still alive. Franka is a nurse. Her sense of saving lives causes deep psychological turmoil -- let him die, go ahead with her suicide plans -- risk her life to save this stranger whom she hates? And then she hears him speak a few words in English!

I'M INTRIGUED. Also, the author's descriptions make me "see." They're sharp without being long and add to the depth of the action.

PACE -- the first half of the novel is the airman recovering from his limiting injuries and preparation to avoid the intruding Gestapo. It's a bit slow. Then as the Gestapo closes in, the tension becomes more severe. All the previous historical flashbacks deepen this tension. This book becomes a true action novel with a satisfying ending. .

OVERALL -- this story and characters gripped my sympathy, and at times my deeper emotions. This was a wrenching time during World War II, heavy on moral dilemmas, grief, excruciating conflicts within and without, and love for both your friends and your enemies. TAKE-AWAY: "Don't let anyone dictate to you who you are, or what's in your soul" (Franka's father.)

RECOMMEND. Even though there were problems arising from the difficulty of the book's concept, I think it still deserves five stars.
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on February 6, 2018
This book captures the experience of Nazi Germany from a citizen's perspective that is not typically brought to light. It identifies how so many average citizens fell so easily into the propaganda that they were fed and how very hard it was for those who so desperately hung on to views that ran counter to the National Socialist movement. It was particularly interesting to largely focus on a female's experience with her own internal conflicts and changing philosophies. At some points it's very sad and at others very tense. Staying true to one's conscience in such horrific times, and the awful struggles to survive in those conditions, made for an emotional sorry that kept me turning pages until the very end.
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on February 4, 2018
This was a quick read, mostly because I couldn't put it down. The story drops you into World War II and gives you a sense of what it was like in Germany then from one person's point of view. I believe it is honest in it's historical accuracy and description of the people and time period. It's a great romance but the historical part is to me, equally interesting. The story is well written with well developed characters and the story flows smoothly. You can read other reviews that will give the story away, I'm just here to tell you that if you are looking for something to read where the story will touch you and at the end you will say "I'm glad I read this", give this book a try.
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on February 2, 2018
This is what my father did during WWII. And yes, this is what it was like, you went in with no one but yourself to depend upon and knowing that America denied knowing you if you got caught. These were the true heroes, but they knew no medals waited in the wings for them no matter how brave and strong they were. After all, they didn't exist!!
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on February 3, 2018
This book was my choice for the February Amazon First Reads. I have been in a reading funk recently and been unable to finish any book I start reading. Well let me tell you, this book cured me. I started reading and absolutely could not put it down until the end. It is a beautiful story filled with heartbreak, fear, courage, and bravery. The story takes place mostly in a small cabin near the Black Forest of Germany at the height of WWII. What I love most about this story is the focus on the two main characters as they stand at odds. The story intermingled flashbacks and life as the two tried to decide if they could trust the other with their life. The story comes to a crescendo as they try to flee across the border into Switzerland. This book is absolutely wonderful and I cannot recommend it enough.
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on February 4, 2018
From the beginning, you know this book is based on actual events yet you forget that once you are into the book. We read so often of the atrocities of WWII, and this one deals with those also, yet there was something different here. In White Rose, Black Forest, you really see what it must have been like to live in Germany if you were not a supporter of Hitler and his regime.

I have read lots of WWII books; in fact, so may recently that I almost didn’t read this one. I liked the history of what was happening to the small towns and communities with the Gestapo in power. I cannot imagine life there and pray I never have to endure something like this. You have to admire those who stood against the Nazi movement at all costs.

The only reason I gave this four stars is for the ending.....too fairy-tale-ish, in one sense. I want to know more about life after the war. Maybe there is a sequel. If not, maybe there is info somewhere.
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on February 21, 2018
I enjoyed this book very much. It was written from a very different perspective than your typical Nazi era historical fiction. Franka ran across an injured American, John, when she was hiking through the Black Forest in the middle of the night looking for a good place to end her life. She had lost her entire family over the last year or so. Her mother died of cancer, her dad was killed in an Allied bomb attack and her brother was killed by the Nazis. She had nothing left and no desire to continue living. Then she met John. He was dressed in the uniform of a Luftwaffe officer. He was unconscious and had two broken legs. Here was someone who needed her help. This gave her a reason to continue living. As the rest of the story unfolded they each learn to trust the other and worked together to accomplish the mission for which John had come to Germany. There are many exciting twists and turns. The reader had no idea until the very end whether or not their mission would be accomplished or if they would actually end up in the hands of the Gestapo. The only reason that I rated it down a star was because of the grammar. Mr. Dempsey occasionally ended sentences with prepositions and there were several dangling modifiers. In spite of that, I still enjoyed the book.
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on February 19, 2018
This may be a novel. Yet, as an avid reader of history, this book is truly a depiction of the life and times of what was Germany under the Nazi regime. World War II...all nations in Europe...in Africa...in the Pacific....was in destruction! The suffering, the loss of lives whose families suffered the devastation. Hell on earth.

To the author....thank you for presenting a gripping recount of what has to be a truly sensed realization of the effects those years had on the people of the world. I am amazed how well written and at your brilliance in weaving facts through fictional well-developed characters. Your storyline and written words left me unable to set this book down from first to last line.

My father left four babies behind...four and under....to answer the call to arms in the Pacific...after Pearl Harbor. He came home in critical condition but God decided it was not his time to leave this earth. My father-in-law...fought the Nazi's in France...his tank hit. He spent the rest of his life with after effects of his service. My two brothers served in the U.S. Air Force. The eldest over 30 years before retiring....even during the Viet Nam crisis. Yet...they would tell no tales. They bottled it up. Trying to leave it all behind them. Thank God for you and your great gift of writing!!! Patricia LaDuke
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Top Contributor: Petson February 2, 2018
After a slow, somewhat stiff start the story picks up its pace and becomes an engaging race to the finish. Along the way it reveals some disturbing aspects of life under Nazi rule. The writing felt stilted and the characters were underdeveloped--I felt one step removed from the story rather than immersed in it especially compared to other novels about this era (e.g. Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi). However, the book captured my interest and I read it in one day. It will make a good film.
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