Crack Between the Worlds
Author: Carmen Stenholm
Publisher: Red Engine Press (2010)
Binding: Hardcover, 280 pages
There is an interesting story to tell about all of us and our families. Crack Between the Worlds is such a story. It has universal appeal because, through this family, we have a mirror that reflects our own ancestors --- and the courage, unyielding tenacity, and occasional bouts of luck that
must have occurred in a somewhat similar fashion, to bring each of us into the world. The power of this story comes from an unflinching look at the character's lives. In it, heroism is balanced with selfishness and petty concerns; perseverance is sometimes rewarded and sometimes dreadfully crushed. It's a story of horrific tragedies and unquestioning resolution to keep living despite the cost. It's a story of big mistakes and small kindnesses, of roads taken at great cost and roads untaken, perhaps at greater cost. It's the story best summed up by the words of Johanna, the family matriarch, who, on the day the Nazi soldiers ravaged her town said to her granddaughter in response to the child's desire to simply give up, "You have to care, Ella. That's what this is all about, you know---to care even when it hurts, to have the strength and courage, my little one, to care even when your mind and body want nothing more than to run away."
MWSA 2010 Silver Medal for Fiction, Literary
Crack between the Worlds is a historical fiction account of four generations of one wonderful woman's female ancestors, and their gutsy, heroic fight for survival, escape from poverty, and eventually, political brutality. Through the voice of this author, as she weaves a story befitting her own family's experiences, we are reminded that our immigrant ancestors clawed their way through extreme adversity to find safety, hope, and homes in the United States, and blend into the great melting pot that makes Americans so unique.
It is a difficult thing to add the music of life to what is usually just a genealogical timeline for most families, as they glance backward, but the author does an admirable job, filling the gaps of history with the stories of real people, her people, as they make their way toward a murky destiny. Daughters, who become mothers, and then grandmothers, have always been the bedrock of the earliest tribes, clans, and now modern day families. The author demonstrates this with a personal touch, identifying these unsung heroes in her own way, from her own lineage.
What a lucky family to have their genealogy captured for all time by a book like this, to know who your great, great grand mothers were, and the hardships they endured. A story that is all too common in our great land, it is nevertheless a story that too often goes untold. Many blessings for Carmen Stenholm for telling it, and sealing such love and beauty in the book of time, and life. Recommended for female readers who share such a story in their own family's history.
Reviewed by: Bob Flournoy (2010)