Book Review: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

When it comes to books, there are a few things that I’m an absolute sucker for. Somehow, The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff manages to touch on just about all of them.

I’m serious. It’s as if Jenoff wrote this book just for me.

OK, OK, I’m not that narcissistic, but seriously, I loved this book.

Why I Loved The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
The Orphan's Tale: A NovelThe Orphan’s Tale: A Novel

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff brings together the best of everything: It’s part historical fiction, part dark mystique, part love story, part strong heroines, and all emotional.

This is one of those books that has layer after layer of material to digest and to analyze. It has the ability to be a book that brings about deep thought. It has fully-developed, deep characters and meaningful situations full of future implications. It’s emotional and filled with universal truths to which everyone can relate. It’s got love. It’s got friendship. It’s got loss and devastation. It has loyalty and treachery and and whimsy and flawed people trying to do the best they can to survive.

More About The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

As The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff begins, 16-year-old Noa is working at a train station at the height of WWII when she happens upon a train car filled with orphaned infants. Having just lost a baby of her own, Noa acts on instinct, grabs a baby and runs—straight into the snowing, cold winter night.

The Orphan's Tale by Pam JenoffBefore the night is finished, she’s discovered by members of the circus. With nowhere else to go and virtually no skills, Noa decides to join the circus with her baby, whom she is now calling her little brother. The baby, whom she’s named Theo, is Jewish, and it becomes Noa’s mission to hide him from members of the SS.

As a member of the circus, Noa assumes she will work in the kitchen or as part of the cleanup crew. Instead, the circus owner has different plans for Noa: She will learn to fly. The circus is short an acrobat on the trapeze, and the circus owner seems to think that Noa will fit the bill.

But Astrid, a veteran circus acrobat, is certain that Noa can’t learn the skills, especially in the six weeks before the first show. Astrid and Noa start off on the wrong foot, but the two soon learn to respect one another. As that respect grows into friendship, Noa and Astrid both learn secrets about one another that could put their lives—and the entire circus—in danger.

The Good and the Bad of The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

My overall impression of The Orphan’s Tale was extremely positive. I enjoyed this book a lot and I whipped through it in a short period of time, given the fact that I read it on my phone. (Shoutout to Netgalley for the ARC.)

The Orphan's Tale by Pam JenoffI loved the fact that the story had two extremely strong women as alternating narrators, and I loved that neither Astrid nor Noa were perfect. Both were extremely flawed and damaged women, and it was in their flaws that I came to appreciate them. I also really appreciated their relationship and what eventually turned into a deep devotion for one another.

I also felt very strongly about the motherly relationships that Noa and Astrid both developed with baby Theo. The idea of this baby (and many others) being left for dead on a freezing train car grabbed my heart and little baby Theo held on to my heart to very end. By the time the book was over, I loved that baby nearly as much as Astrid and Noa did. Theo added an element of emotionalism to this book that otherwise may have been lacking. Theo is the little guy who makes this book go.

With all that being said, and without saying too much, I will say this: There was a part of the story I didn’t love at all. Eventually, Noa meets her love interest, and I had a hard time swallowing the relationship. It was one of those instant-love kind of situations, and I simply couldn’t buy that the pair felt so strongly about one another in just a few short interactions.

That wasn’t enough to ruin the story for me though, and I really, really enjoyed The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff.

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