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Sunday, February 17, 2013

My review of Becoming Clementine by Jennifer Niven

About the book:

After delivering a B-17 Flying Fortress to Britain, an American volunteers to copilot a plane carrying special agents to their drop spot over Normandy. Her personal mission: to find her brother, who is missing in action. Their plane is shot down, and only she and five agents survive. Now they are on the run for their lives.

As they head to Paris, the beautiful aviatrix Velva Jean Hart becomes Clementine Roux, a daring woman on an epic adventure with her team to capture an operative known only as "Swan." Once settled on Rue de la Néva, Clementine works as a spy with the Resistance and finds herself falling in love with her fellow agent, Émile, a handsome and mysterious Frenchman with secrets of his own. When Clementine ends up in the most brutal prison in Paris, trying to help Émile and the team rescue Swan, she discovers the depths of human cruelty, the triumph of her own spirit, and the bravery of her team, who will stop at nothing to carry out their mission.

My review:

This was a powerful story with a melancholy ending that still left me satisfied. While it's not a Christian book, the heroine still thought about life after death, heaven and hell, and the fact that we will all die someday. I found that part of the story to be very heartfelt and honest. This story was a great illustration of how war changes people, especially when it comes to what matters most.

I really liked the heroine in this story and felt compassion for her plight. She went through a lot of difficult circumstances and did her best to survive the war. Her characterization felt real and genuine. The way she came to love Emile was touching and powerfully written. In fact, there were a lot of emotionally evocative scenes in this book.

The honesty and realism in this book spoke to my heart. There was profanity in the story, but it always came from the soldier's mouths and in the most dire of circumstances, so it fit the story. Still, sensitive ears may find it particularly offensive. I didn't find the cussing excessive, but true-to-life and appropriately placed.

Even if some of the swear words used weren't ones I wanted to read, they seemed to fit the scenes. They didn't take away from the story's impact, either. But that's only my opinion. The story probably would have been just as good without them.

Anyway, I've always had a fascination for WWII stories that include spies and the French Resistance. This one is unforgettable and heartfelt novel, just like the quote says on the cover. I will be thinking about the lessons I gleaned for some time because this novel has the kind of insight that sticks with you. Great story.

Becoming Clementine was published by Plume and released in Sept 2012.

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