Harrowing and heartrending, Ella Fox
When Dr Jakob ‘Kobi’ Voight is given a pack of letters by his mother just before he leaves for a trip to Berlin, Germany, he has no idea the turmoil, discovery and mystery he will be surrounded by once he discovers what secrets lie in the letters and what ties the letter writer has to Kobi and his own family.
The letters, written in Hebrew and illustrated with exquisite little illustrations, are penned by a young Jewish girl in the midst of WWII who calls herself Ruby. Ruby’s letters are to her young child, who Ruby had to give up for fear of the Gestapo discovering both her baby, herself and the resistance – ‘The Red Orchestra’ that fought Hitler and his Nazis that Ruby was a part of. As Kobi hunts to discover who Ruby actually was and what happened to her, his quest unexpectedly spans Berlin, Melbourne, New York and Vermont, and from WWII to present day.
My heart was sore after finishing Rachel’s Legacy. The alluring beginning draws the reader in until they’re trapped and can’t help but stay for the breathless and heart-breaking ride that the rest of the book takes them on. Paired with an ending that was satisfying as it was bittersweet, made me close the book wishing I could go back to the beginning and read it again for the very first time.
I felt like I lived in each one of the characters in these pages. I felt Kobi’s curiosity, the hunger in him to discover and unravel the mystery hanging over the letters penned by the mysterious Ruby. I felt Ruby’s heartbreak and the pain that poured out of her in her letters to her baby and the guilt she felt over giving her up. All the other characters from Ruby’s family I loved getting to know, through both Ruby’s letters and Kobi’s research. I enjoyed getting to know Kobi’s family and Elizabeth – Kobi’s mother – had my favourite chapters in the whole book.
I was so absorbed while reading Rachel’s Legacy that hours flew by and I didn’t notice them go. I was so completely and utterly captivated in the harrowing and heart-rending story that when I finally came up for air, I was filled with the feeling of having just lived the past few hours in another world. I had tears in my eyes for more parts of this novel then I didn’t – the emotion portrayed by the beautiful and complicated cast of characters and their overlapping story lines is written with a skilled hand by Thomas.
Rachel’s Legacy is now one of my favourite books of 2016. The absolute perfection of this book cannot be properly put into words and I can’t wait to read to get my hands on Thomas’s other works and bury myself in them like I did with this one for the talent that Thomas holds in writing the most perfect of stories is truly something special.
Ella Fox is a New Zealand-based teen book blogger and reviewer who can be found on her blog, Once Upon a Bookish Time.