Cover Image: Beyond the Tracks

Beyond the Tracks

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Member Reviews

In Beyond The Tracks we follow Jacob and his family / friends over many years as the Nazis initially take over their town, the family then fleeing to a Dutch refugee camp, and then finally ending up in a concentration camp. Regular readers of this little corner of WWII fiction will know exactly what to expect from these novels and Beyond The tracks didn't disappoint. There was hardship, heartbreak and romance to keep readers emotionally invested. What I particularly loved about this book was that Jacob was recruited to be a sort of supervisor in the concentration camp and so wasn't just an average prisoner which led to a really fascinating perspective on things and more of an insight into the way things were run in the camps. I haven't come across this perspective in the other similar books that I've read. It was clearly very well researched by the author and it was interesting to hear that several of the characters were based on real people.
BUT...... and this is a very big but....... unfortunately I was very conflicted about the book and actually almost gave up not long after starting it. I listened to the audiobook edition and it just didn't work for me at all. The narration was ridiculous. So overly theatrical it was almost comical. I cannot for the life of me even try to understand why characters were given such strong inappropriate accents and such silly voices. I spent much of my time scoffing or eye rolling at the narration and it took my attention from the actual story, which is the important part in all this. It severely affected my enjoyment of the book to the point that I have had to separate the story and the narration in order to credit the author for his great work. Why did a couple of the male characters have such strong cockney accents that I was half expecting them to mention the old geezer heading up the apples and pears to bed? Why did a German woman sound like she had been born and bred in Yorkshire?
I do really recommend this book for fans of WWII fiction, just not the audiobook version.
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I tried, believe me, I tried so hard to get into this book. I don't know why, but it was impossible for me to engage. I've read countless books about the Holocaust, many of them personal and true accounts, and have found each one could add another layer to my understanding of the atrocities enacted.

I don't know why this one didn't grab me like the others have. It lacked the emotional depth I look for, though the story was certainly heartbreaking and difficult to read. It fell flat when I needed it to show me the pain, the fear, the chill, the desperation.
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Thank you Netgalley and Michael Reit for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review.

What a fantastic debut novel. This was my first experience with WWII historical fiction and I don't know why I waited so long to give this genre a try. WWII and the unspeakable acts of the Holocaust have always fascinated me. I've read the Diary of Anne Franke and watched Shindler's List and I was worried about reading fictionalized accounts of what happened because I was afraid of inaccuracies and glorification, but this novel surprised me. It was also a story with a happy ending, which, under those circumstances, didn't happen often, (see Anne Franke).

The story begins In the Netherlands as Germany begins it's occupation of the Dutch nation. Businesses are being shut down and people are disappearing in nightly raids. Our main character, Jacob and his family, along with his best friend, Ethan and his family, end up in a Dutch transit camp, Westerbork, which is a stop for prisoners headed to the eastern internment (death) camps. Jacob and his family are given jobs in Westerbork and life isn't too terrible in the beginning. They know nothing of the horrors of the eastern camps and believe all of the camps are like Westerbork. But as the German occupation spreads, things become worse at Westerbork and Jacob begins to realize things are worse than they appear. Eventually, more and more people begin to get sent east and Jacob, Ethan and Jacob's father end up on a train bound for Auschwitz. Realizing the danger he is in, Jacob makes his escape from the train prior to arriving at the death camp.

This is a story about resilience, friendship, and family, set against the horrific backdrop of Nazi Germany. While there are horrors beyond belief throughout the book, this was, essentially a heartwarming story. Jacob refused to give up throughout, despite the odds being stacked against him.

This is a fantastic, self-published debut novel and I look forward to future works by Michael Reit. 4.5 stars!


Now, for the audio. I had mixed feelings about this narrator. I really liked him as the one who told the story and voiced the male parts, however, his female voices were terrible. Not bad enough to DNF, but the next book he narrates should really have multiple narrators.
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The book was slow-moving at the beginning but gets better as it goes along.   I really enjoyed that parts of the book were based on real events as mentioned in the Author's notes.
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Overall I enjoyed this book. It took me a little bit to get into it but once I did it was worth it! I’ve read several books set during Nazi rule and this book was a welcomed change of pace. It focused on the impacts the war had on friends rather than just the horrors. It shed light on a different perspective.
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I thought that this book had a great story to tell, and the factual content was hard work by the author and in some places it just blew my mind, 

I really struggled with the narration and was only the fact that I was enjoying the content, that I stuck with it. This is of course subjective and I have seen others have enjoyed it.
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The book is set in 1938 in the terrifying backdrop of the Holocaust. People are disappearing every day and are never seen again. We follow Jacob throughout his journey to flee with his family and his quest to protect those he loves. 

This story was partially based on real people.. It was emotional and heartbreaking and I felt connected to the characters. I didn’t particularly care for the narrator, and found some of his added theatrics slightly off. Either way, it was a good story and I’d recommend it. 

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC audiobook.
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I’ve read countless WWII Historical Fiction books based on true stories and although difficult to read at times, I feel it’s an honor to read the personal stories, hear their voices through the pages (or over audio), and share my reviews with all of you.  Beyond The Tracks takes place during the Holocaust.  A very sad time in our history, one that I’m sure we would all like to forget, but I think these stories should be told and never forgotten.   

Beyond The Tracks was an amazing audiobook and I am astounded that this is Michael Reit’s debut novel.  The book is well researched and written in a way where fact and fiction are brought together to tell a very moving story.  The character building has a lot of depth and you feel like you really know young Jacob and Ethen, the two main characters and their families. 

Although, there may be times where you are brought to tears while reading or listening to the book because the story is heartbreaking, there are other times where the story is both beautiful and inspiring.  One thing is for sure, it is impossible to stop reading/listening to. 

The narrator Mike Paul did a fabulous job bringing the story to life and his voice was distinct enough to differentiate between characters.  I felt like he increased the pleasure of my experience. 

I highly recommend this book to historical fiction lovers and those that want to expand their reading genres.
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This audiobook was an engrossing listen. It follows the story (partly based on true facts from that time) of two friends. Their story begins in Berlin and continues with their experiences in The Netherlands transit camp to Poland during WW2. 
The story telling conveys the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty for Jews in that period. 
The characters are likeable and the narrator had his work cut out creating voices that the listener could distinguish between (though some sounded very British, but I got used to that and couldn’t have done any better myself!). 
It was interesting to hear the author’s comments at the end. 
Would I recommend this to others? Yes, especially if there’s an interest in history, specifically The Holocaust.
5/5 from me.
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I listened to this audiobook.  I would highly recommend it.  It is about a couple of teenage boys when they Nazis took over Berlin, where they are from.  It was amazing what they went through and how they were able to be rescued.  Thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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This is my favorite kind of book; a compelling tale that is partially based on a true story. 
The book covers several years in the life of Jacob, a Jewish young man hoping to take over his father's pharmacy in Berlin. It goes from Kristalnacht, to a Netherlands refuge camp, through the camp's transition to a work camp, Jacob's deportation to Poland and the work of resistance cells to foil the Nazi's plans and free some of the prisoners. 

It is filled with history, emotion and realism. I loved listening to it.  The narrator did a very good job too. My only complaint was that he used a British accent for Jacob's German friend, Ethan. 

I highly recommend this book for teen and adult readers, and probably even mature tweens.
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Audible version 

This was amazing and I cannot believe that this was a first novel.  Very well researched, it took me a while to get used to the narration but then realised that it really suited the story. 

My husband reads a lot of historical world war 2 and we listened to this together and he was impressed.  That is high praise

I was given an advance copy by netgalley and the publishers but the review is entirely my own.
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Very poignant read. These books never get any easier to read. Once you begin you don’t want to put it down. Extraordinary lives how they made it through I’ll never know. Very well written
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Wonderful read. Couldn’t put this down, writing was excellent, nice straightforward descriptions that read easily. The characters were interesting, I found myself very vested in them and what was happening to them and the story itself was gripping
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There is an incredible story told here. As a work of historical fiction, partially based on true events, author Michael Reit has created an important work with his debut novel. The story and the characters are fascinating. I really loved the look in to the resistance work, as it is one aspect of WWII I have not previously explored as much as I'd liked. As tragic as the real life (and fictional) events were, the true beauty of the human spirit is revealed in the selfless acts of many heroic people hidden from public view. We need to raise up, glorify the common man whose stories deserve to be told. We need to know that there are people all over the world, that fight the good fight, even in the darkest days.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Hard to believe this was a debut novel! I read a ton of WW2 historical fiction yet this story was able to bring new perspectives and historical details concerning the Holocaust that I have yet to read about in other books. The story was crafted in a unique way in which it focused intently on a certain time/experience of the MC Jacob’s life during the Holocaust then skipped a chunk of time to the next experience in Jacob’s life. The author noted at the end that although Jacob was a fictional character, these historical events were true accounts of what happened to other people during the Holocaust.

The plot was executed well and the writing drew me in. Sadly I can’t say the same for the audio performance. I found the narrator too theatrical and upbeat for the tone of the story, which is why i rated it 4 instead of 5 stars. Towards the end of the audiobook, I was pretty tired of the narrator’s voice and wished I’d requested the ebook instead.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced audio copy in exchange for an honest review.
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wonderful narration, wonderful story, intense and well written, really makes you feel you are there. Heartwrenching and moving story.
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A WWII story showcasing two Jewish friends, Ethan and Jacob, who experience the war and the Nazi occupation of Germany and Poland.  This engrossing storyline kept my attention and stirred my emotions from beginning to end.  There are some time jumps in order to encompass a large amount of time, but the author does this wonderfully and you do not feel cheated of detail.  The material is heartbreaking and very thorough, incorporating fact and fiction to give the reader a vivid picture of the actual events.  There were intense moments and I had a nail-biting experience cheering for these people.  I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was fantastic!  Each character had a unique voice that set them apart from the rest.  It was almost like having a full cast yet it was just one voice.  I would highly recommend this book to other readers.
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In 1938 Jacob Kagans, his best friend Ethan and their respective parents escape from Berlin as Jewish families begin to disappear from their homes.  They find themselves in a Dutch refugee camp, Westerbork.

As The Netherlands fall to the Nazi regime they find their new home transformed into a transit camp, whilst Jakob and Ethan are given roles in the Ordedienst.

The story evolves into a tale of family, friendship, loyalty and an unwavering desire to survive, all while enduring and witnessing some of the worst atrocities in history.

This was a superb audiobook. It had me hooked from the outset. 

It is truly astonishing that the events depicted occurred in such recent history. 

Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to listen to an ARC.
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** ARC provided by Netgalley via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ***

I really enjoyed this book, I listened as an audiobook and the narrator was really good.

This book is told from the perspective of German Jew Jacob and covers the period of the Second World War. The novel is split into different sections and featured details of the German and particularly the Polish resistance. I really liked hearing that some of the stories in this book are based on real peoples experiences and amazing stories. I'm impressed with this debut novel and will definitely be looking out for more from Michael Reit in the future.
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