The Warsaw Sisters

Written by Amanda Barratt
Review by Jon G. Bradley

Prolific, award-winning author Barratt has penned a powerful narrative anchored in the adventures of twin sisters Antonina and Helena. Their world uprooted by the German invasion of Poland, and specifically the brutal occupation of Warsaw, the girls struggle on a daily basis to simply survive.

Written in an intimate parallel literary style, each protagonist tells her story in a chronological manner. Barratt describes the vicissitudes of an increasingly difficult life, graphically illustrating betrayals and deportations along with the odd episode of humanity within a stark landscape. Evoked via often divergent and intense descriptions, the sisters wander very separate paths, navigating circumstances that they neither imagined nor are equipped to endure. Basic supplies are scarce, and the general civilian population suffers physically and emotionally under the severe yoke of occupation.

Destruction abounds as the war turns against the conqueror and daily existence becomes even more problematic. Matters come to a climax in the late summer and early fall of 1944 with the infamous Warsaw Uprising. Silent existence and acceptance are no longer options, and the sisters must overcome their own inertia and contemplate dangerous paths: one a single mother and the other a resistance agent.

As the estranged twins are drawn into a deepening conflagration, fundamental concerns center their actions: who can be trusted, who might be a foe, and who might betray others in order to survive?