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Edge of Lost Description of Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes an ambitious and heartrending story of immigrants, deception, and second chances.

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

My Thoughts on Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

Shanley Keagan is a young boy living in Dublin with his alcoholic uncle.  His mother had died and he doesn’t know who his father is other than he is from America.  His uncle has little Shanley work in pubs that will have him as a vaudevillian.  He earns a bit of money and usually gets a free meal for his efforts.

Eventually Shanley gets on a boat heading for America and is taken in by an Italian family and takes on the name Tommy Capello.  A lot happens during this time however, eventually Tommy ends up at the notorious, Alcatraz Prison.  Is he really guilty of the crime he is convicted of and will he get out?  You will have to read the book to find out!

I started rooting for Shanley/ Tommy from the first chapter.  He has a zest for life that is contagious and is very talented.  He doesn’t want to be a burden to anyone yet loves his new Italian family and learns how to fit in.

It is clear to me that Kristina McMorris really did her research on both Ireland and American in the era.  Her writing is poetic and makes the story come alive.  This book would make an excellent movie if it were to land in the right hands!  In fact, it came alive and made me feel like I was watching a movie.  Sometimes I even felt like I was in it!

I love books about the immigrant experience and this is one I can highly recommend.  It has catapulted into my top 5 in the genre! If you love historical fiction books about the immigrant experience. Life on Alcatraz as both a inmate, worker, and family living on the Island is also riveting.  ‘The Edge of Lost’ is a must read!

I received the ebook edition for my honest opinion.


About Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris Kristina McMorris

KRISTINA MCMORRIS is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and the recipient of more than twenty national literary awards, as well as a nomination for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, RWA’s RITA® Award, and a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. Inspired by true personal and historical accounts.  Her works of fiction have been published by Kensington Books, Penguin Random House, and HarperCollins. 

The Edge of Lost is her fourth novel, following the widely praised Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, and The Pieces We Keep. Additionally, her novellas are featured in the anthologies A Winter Wonderland and Grand Central. Prior to her writing career, Kristina hosted weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, and has been named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal. She lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest, where she is working on her next novel. For more, visit www.KristinaMcMorris.com 

Marceline Loridan-IvensDescription of But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

“You might come back, because you’re young, but I will not come back.”—Marceline Loridan’s father to her, 1944

A runaway bestseller in France, But You Did Not Come Back has already been the subject of a French media storm and hailed as an important new addition to the library of books dealing with the Holocaust. It is the profoundly moving and poetic memoir by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, who at the age of fifteen was arrested in occupied France, along with her father. Later, in the camps, he managed to smuggle a note to her, a sign of life that made all the difference to Marceline—but he died in the Holocaust, while Marceline survived.
 In But You Did Not Come Back, Marceline writes back to her father, the man whose death overshadowed her whole life. Although her grief never diminished in its intensity, Marceline ultimately found her calling, working as both an activist and a documentary filmmaker. But now, as France and Europe in general faces growing anti-Semitism, Marceline feels pessimistic about the future.

Her testimony is a memorial, a confrontation, and a deeply affecting personal story of a woman whose life was shattered and never totally rebuilt.

My Thoughts On But You Did Not Come Back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens

I have read many fictional, non-fiction, and memoirs about the Holocaust.  I just can’t seem to get enough of the subject.  I think it is a deer in the headlights kind of thing, I keep wondering how humanity can let this happen.  Yet, similar things keep happening to this day.  How is shooting or bombing mass amounts of people, much different than making them work in forced labor and then gassing them to death so different?  I personally don’t think it is.  They are all evil.

In ‘But You Did Not Come Back’, 15 year old Marceline Loridan-Ivens is taken with her father from France to the camps during WWII and the Holocaust.  They are in neighboring camps and her father manages to get a note to her which lifts her spirits.  She is relieved to know he is still alive.  However, by the time she is rescued, she finds out he did not make it. 

When she returns to France she is reunited with her mother and other family members who were able to hide when her father and herself were taken.  They can’t possibly understand what she went though and it was hard for her to relate to them the same way as before.  It is hard for her to just go on as if nothing had ever happened.  However, she does find a way to move on.

Marceline Loridan-Ivens writes a poetic almost meditative account of her experience during the Holocaust.  It is deeply moving and had me in tears, in parts.  However, She is a survivor and an inspiration to us all!  She has gone on to work as an actress, a screenwriter, and a director. 


I received the ebook version via Net Galley for my honest review.

About Marceline Loridan-Ivens

Marceline Loridan-Ivens was born in 1928. She has worked as an actress, a screenwriter, and a director. She directed “The Birch-Tree Meadow” in 2003, starring Anouk Aimee, as well as several documentaries with Joris Ivens.

About Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith is the translator of “Suite Francaise” and eleven other novels by Irene Nemirovsky, as well as a new translation of Camus s “L Etranger.” She has been awarded the French-American Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize and the PEN Translation Prize. She lives in New York.”



Kim van AlkemadeDescription of Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.

In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.

Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.

Lush in historical detail, rich in atmosphere and based on true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful, affecting novel of the unexpected choices we are compelled to make that can shape our destinies.

My Thoughts

It is 1918 and Rachel Rabinowitz is a four year old girl living with her mother, father, and brother, Sam in a small tenement in New York //city’s Lower Eastside. When their mother is killed and their father leaves, Sam and Rachel are taken away and separated.  Since Rachel is only four, she is taken to the Infant Jewish Orphanage.

At the orphanage she is experimented on by Dr. Mildred Solomon.  She is forced to drink barium which, Dr. Solomon tells her is a “milkshake”.  If you have ever had to drink the stuff, it is definitely nothing like a “milkshake”! Rachel is the subjected to many X-rays that leaves her bald from the radiation.

When Rachel turns six, she is sent to the Children’s Jewish Orphanage and is reunited with her brother, Sam.  However, she is constantly being made fun of by the children because she has no hair.  Due to events that happen Sam is forced to flee the orphanage and Rachel is left alone again.  She only has one friend which she thinks Sam was paying to be her friend.

When Rachel turns 15 she runs away from the orphanage and goes to find Sam.  As an adult Rachel becomes a nurse in Manhattan.  She works at Old Hebrews Home and one of her patients happens to be Dr. Solomon.  Around the same time Rachel finds out that she has cancer, most likely due to the radiation she was exposited to from Dr. Solomon’s experiments.

As you can probably guess, Rachel becomes obsessed with getting payback from Dr. Solomon. 

This book was riveting!  I had a hard time putting down and when I did, I had trouble falling asleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about it!  The characters and plot were well developed.   As were the time and places.

This book is said to be based on true events.  I couldn’t help but think about the experiments on Jews in concentration camps.  Even before that it was happening in the U.S. and possibly even worse, there were Jews experimenting on Jews!

I highly recommend Orphan # 8!


I received the ebook version for my honest review.

About Kim van AlkemadeKim van Alkemade

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So to Speak, and CutBank. She teaches writing at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and is the author of Orphan #8: A Novel.