I'm having a bit of trouble writing this review. Gracianna is such a powerful and impactful novel, I want to be sure to get it right. I guess I'll start at the beginning with who it all starts...Gracianna herself. What a memorable character! And to know that her character was 'inspired' by the author's grandmother, to know that this person was real, it's just amazing. I have never read a book with a character quite like Gracianna. Strong willed and determined, yet perceptive and loyal, this is a character one never gets tired of reading about. Her story is inspiring, to say the least.
In the story, we also get a terrible look at Nazi occupied France during WWII and even a satellite camp of Auschwitz, the most horrible concentration camp, according to the historical record. Through a series of events, Gracianna's sister is sent to the camp, although she is not a Jew. Gracianna goes above and beyond the call of duty to secure her sister's release. I do not want to go into too much detail because I'll give away the story and it's a very exciting story. I was on the edge of my seat from the middle of the book until the end. I cannot imagine the fear people lived in during the Holocaust. Everyone had to live in fear of the Nazis. This fear was palpable. While reading, I really felt it in my gut.
In the author's afterword, Amador made a good point of why he wanted to tell Gracianna's story:
I wanted to convey my understanding of her values and what they meant to her, and what they took from her and what she gave us. I believe these values were always on her mind, never far from her always-moist, pursed lips and French-accented thoughts. I wanted to understand her values and convictions and compare them to now-values, and I wondered, "What might today's generation believe in so strongly that it would cause them to act so desperately...What is it that is so important that each of us would act upon it, based on our values, beliefs, and attitudes today?"
This was a good point because I found myself wondering what I would do in a similar situation. It really is hard to imagine having to live through those times.
These stories are important because we must never forget what happened in WWII. How many people died...were killed....because they were different. This must never be allowed to happen in our society again. Would that everyone in the world had the character and moral fortitude of Gracianna. The world would be a better place indeed.
Gracianna is simply a must-read.
About the book
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Greenleaf Book Group Press
The gripping story of Gracianna--a French-Basque girl forced to make impossible decisions after being recruited into the French Resistance in Nazi-occupied Paris.
Gracianna is inspired by true events in the life of Trini Amador's great-grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. As an adult, Amador was haunted by the vivid memory of finding a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering his great-grandmother's home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun.
Decades later, Amador would delve into the remarkable odyssey of his Gracianna's past, a road that led him to an incredible surprise. In Gracianna, Amador weaves fact and fiction to tell his great-grandmother's story.
Gracianna bravely sets off to Paris in the early 1940s--on her way to America, she hopes--but is soon swept into the escalation of the war and the Nazi occupation of Paris. After chilling life-and-death struggles, she discovers that her missing sister has surfaced as a laborer in Auschwitz. When she finds an opportunity to fight back against the Nazis to try to free her sister, she takes it--even if it means using lethal force.
As Amador tells the imagined story of how his great-grandmother risked it all, he delivers richly drawn characters and a heart-wrenching page-turner that readers won't soon forget.
Praise for Gracianna
"Gracianna is a riveting and remarkable narrative. The characters come alive through their unassuming but compelling stories, as Nazi-occupied Paris unfolds before our eyes. We come to care deeply about the characters, which makes putting down the book almost impossible. Highly recommended." - Stacey Katz Bourns, Director of Language Programs, Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
“While wine is obviously a significant part of life’s enjoyment, the story behind the wine can be even more gratifying. You will be fixated on this thrilling story written by Trini Amador which was inspired by Gracianna, his great-grandmother, the French Basque namesake of his family’s award-winning winery in Sonoma County.” - Bob Cabral, Director of Winemaking & General Manager, Williams Selyem Winery
About the author
Trini Amador vividly remembers the day he found a loaded German Luger tucked away in a nightstand while wandering through his great-grandmother’s home in Southern California. He was only four years old at the time, but the memory remained and he knew he had to explore the story behind the gun. This experience sparked a journey towards Gracianna, Amador’s debut novel, inspired by true events and weaving reality with imagination. It's a tale drawing from real-life family experiences.
Mr. Amador is a traveled global marketing "insighter.” He is a sought-after guru teaching multinational brand marketers to understand how customer and consumer segments behave based on their needs, values, motivations, feeling and values. He has trained over five thousand brand marketers on how to grow brands in over 20 countries in the last 15 years. His counseling has been valued at global brands including General Electric, Microsoft, AT&T, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, Google, Jack Daniel’s, The J.M. Smucker Co., DuPont, Mattel, and Rodale, Inc..
Amador is also a founding partner with his wife and children of Gracianna Winery, an award-winning winery located in Healdsburg, California. The winery also pays tribute to the Amador Family’s maternal grandmother, Gracianna Lasaga. Her message of being thankful lives on through them. The Gracianna winery strives to keep Gracianna’s gratitude alive through their wine. Learn more at: www.gracianna.com, like Gracianna Winery on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @GraciannaWinery.
Amador resides in Sonoma County with his family.
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Check out the author's guest post and enter the giveaway HERE.
*A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.