Wildflowers of Terezin
In Denmark in 1943, Pastor Steffen Peterson, riding his cherished bicycle to visit a parishioner, instead ends up in the middle of a street shooting and wakes up in a hospital. There, the cautious Steffen finds himself mistaken for a member of the Resistance—and drawn to his Jewish nurse, Hanne Abrahamsen. In spite of himself, Steffen is soon drawn into Resistance work, putting himself increasingly at risk. Meanwhile, Hanne is sent to Theresienstadt.
Because of its subject matter, I was expecting to admire this book, but not to enjoy it, so I found myself pleasantly surprised. Elmer certainly doesn’t flinch from showing us the tragic side of history, but neither his characters nor his readers are beaten down by the events that unfold here. Elmer employs lively, natural dialogue, such as the banter between co-workers, between brothers, between mother and daughter, and, of course, between the romantic leads. Steffen and Hanne and their companions are well drawn: ordinary, likable people who find themselves doing heroic acts out of sheer decency. Their story is truly an inspirational one.