For Such a Time | Book Review

I’ve always been fascinated with the events of World War II in Germany and the after years.  Probably because those were the generational stories I heard around my home.  My grandparents and parents had stories that sounded like a plot for a novel, which is why I probably gravitate to books like that as well.

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin, is a powerful retelling of the story of Esther during WWII: Blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin must save her people—even if she cannot save herself.

Hadassah Benjamin our Esther (which was Esther’s Jewish name as well), takes the name Stella Mueller as a false identity to hopefully fly under the radar of the SS.  However she gets rounded up and placed in a transit camp in Czechoslovakia, and is saved from a firing squad by a Kommandant Officer and becomes his personal secretary.

Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon.

Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?  The inspired fictional account has comparable characters to the main ones in the Biblical account, and if you are familiar with the Bible story then you’ll recognize the ‘who’s who’ right away, if not Breslin inserts scripture verses at the beginning of each chapter so you can correlate her story with the Biblical one.

Breslin’s story takes place in a different era, under different circumstances, and is obviously fictional, but it’s as engaging as the Biblical story of Esther.  It stays true to the character of Esther and her burden to save her people from annihilation.  However, while it’s marketed as a “retelling” of the Bible story, my personal opinion would be more so that it’s “inspired” by it.  You can definitely see the parallels, but there’s enough artistic license given that I hesitate to say it’s a retelling.  Maybe the Noah movie has now made me gun-shy to say any creative work based on the Bible is a ‘retelling’, but that’s how I see it.

I relished this book from cover to cover, precisely because of the historical time period and the inspiration of the story. Breslin made the story and details rich, full, and even with a framework of both the Biblical narrative and historical era she excelled at making For Such a Time its own story.

If you’re interested the book can be purchased on both in paperback and in an ebook Kindle format.