UPDATE: Bethany House, the publishers of For Such A Time, issued a statement in response to the complaints they have received about the book. The statement is a classic, eminently teachable, example of a non-apology. I’m not going to link to the official post. Instead, here a couple of posts that offer both the original statement and responses:
KK Hendin: Bethany House’s Statement, Rewritten
Jackie Barbosa: Bethany House’s Statement and Our Response (the “our” refers to the group of us who read the book together)
Janine’s and my joint discussion of For Such a Time is up at Dear Author. In addition, there have been several excellent posts that summarize, critique, and give you an idea of what it was like to read this book. I was part of a group of readers who took on the project at the same time, and I can honestly say that I don’t think I could have finished otherwise (some of us read the whole thing, others didn’t). They helped me understand aspects of the story that I was less familiar with, and we commiserated. A lot. I encourage you to read their takes, and I’ll update the list as necessary:
Kelly Instalove: Just Because You Can … Doesn’t Mean You Should
Jackie Barbosa: About *That* Book (AKA the Nazi Romance Everyone’s Talking About
Ros Clarke: Not A Review of That Book
Janine and me: Joint Discussion: For Such A Time by Kate Breslin
Emily Hubbard: A Sad (but not angry) Letter to Bethany House
Joanne Renaud: For Such a Time: I Discuss THAT BOOK
Janine read 35 percent of the book before she had to stop. As I said in the post, I’m in awe that she was able to get that far, given her family background and her childhood in Israel. We tried to address various misconceptions and inaccuracies that have been floating around the intertubes. Some are straightforward.
- No, the heroine was not presumed to be non-Jewish because of her blonde hair and blue eyes, but because she had false papers. It is probable that her features helped make the claim more credible, but what mattered to the Nazis was Jewish blood, not looks.
- No, the heroine is not converted by the end of the book, or at least not in the sense of explicitly accepting Jesus as her lord and savior. However, no supposedly Jewish character thinks or practices religion in a way that reflects actual Judaism. They all feel kind of Christian. 21stC Christian at that. Think of them as Christianized rather than actively converted.
- No, the Nazi hero is not engaged in genocidal activities while romance blossoms. The text goes into many contortions to exculpate the hero from such a charge. It’s very odd to read: he is on familiar terms with Himmler and Eichmann, but somehow he’s kept away from tangible acts (except for one, which winds up having our heroine feel sorrier for him than she does for herself).
- No, the hero doesn’t rape the heroine. This is an inspirational. The heroine isn’t allowed to have sex of any kind. She’s coerced and imprisoned and her romantic feelings are indistinguishable from Stockholm Syndrome, but the book is not “rapey.” The only people having rapey thoughts are the villainous Nazis (as opposed to the two Good Nazis) and they don’t get to act on them (see above: Inspirational Romance).