The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff greatly exceeded my expectations. Books set during World War II are not ones that I typically choose to read, by trying something different this time paid off. This is a story about a sixteen year old girl, Noa, who is put out of her home by her father after he learns that she is pregnant by a Nazi soldier. After Noa delivers,, she gives the baby boy up for adoption and finds work cleaning a rail station. When she discovers a boxcar of abandoned Jewish babies, Noa makes the split decision to take one of the male babies and flee.
Her journey with the young baby through the snow leads to a worker from a German circus finding her and the baby passed out in the snow. The circus takes her in, where she meets Astrid. Astrid is Jewish and grew up in a circus, learning to be an aerialist as a child. After her divorce, she is unable to locate her family and also takes refuge with the circus.
The relationship between Noa and Astrid starts off rocky as Astrid is not happy to have to train Noa to perform with her. The secrets among them, the age difference, and the distrust make for a very tense environment. With time they become more than co-performers and more than friends. They become family.
This is a story of friendship, love, and survival that provided me with some insight of how difficult live was during the war. The ending was nothing like what I expected, but perfect nonetheless.