Cover Image: What I Would Tell You

What I Would Tell You

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I was excited to delve into What I Would Tell You because: 1. it’s written by Liz Tolsma, 2. I love dual-timelines, 3. I’m drawn to WWII stories, and 4. I don’t remember reading a story with a Greek setting. 

I’ve read several books by this author and have never been even slightly disappointed. It’s evident how much research goes into her stories, rich in history and intensity. 

The dual-timeline aspect of this story gives it so much more depth than if only one view is provided. I loved both the contemporary and historical timelines, but Mathilda’s POV was most impactful, revealing a glimpse of of Jewish life during this dark period.

With strong elements of courage and sacrifice, what I loved most was how seamlessly the Gospel was shared. The threads of faith, family, and forgiveness make this such a moving and meaningful story.

#CoverLoverBookReview received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions are 100% mine.
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I have read several of Liz’s books and enjoyed them so I was excited to read this one. My favorite part of the story was the historical part. I can’t even imagine living through what these people did. The ending of the historical part is heartbreaking but I am sure very true.

I struggled with the contemporary part and Riley’s mom’s reaction to being Jewish, it just didn’t seem believable. But I guess I don’t know what it’s like to be Jewish, do they really live in fear of people hurting them?

Overall, it was a very interesting story and a lot that will keep you guessing and reading.

A copy of this book was given to me through Celebrate Lit. All opinions are my own.
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I am not a very enthusiastic reader of World War Two fiction. I think the genre is overdone and sometimes, I think we romanticize those who fought in the war forgetting the psychological effect war brings when it ends. War should never be romanticized, no matter how great the victory was. So, I approached What I Would Tell You  with hesitancy. I thought it was unique that it was about Greece instead of France or England. It did not change my attitude about World War Two novels, but it was an interesting story. When Tessa Payton and her cousin conduct a DNA test, Tessa is shocked to receive the test results because it shows her that she is Jewish. In an impulsive move, she decides to travel to Greece and research her biological family. In Greece, she meets a young man named Giannis who works at the Jewish museum. They hit it off and he gives Tessa the diary of a young Jewish woman named Mathilda Nissim during World War Two.

      Mathilda Nissim and her pharmacist husband, Asher, live in a small flat in Thessaloniki. Things are peaceful until the Germans invade and their freedoms slowly start to erode. Through all of this, Mathilda finds out she is pregnant. At first, she is determined to raise her child in the environment she is in. However, as things deteriorate, she questions this and begins to entertain a drastic plan. 

      I had mixed feelings of this novel. I do like dual timeline novels and it was nice to read a Word War Two novel that was not set in England or France. In Mathilda’s story, though, I was perplexed at her relationship with her Christian friend, Ioanna. From time to time, Ioanna would stress to Mathilda the importance of accepting Christ. But Mathilda is Jewish. One of the themes in this novel is to respect different religions. In my opinion, Ioanna should not do this since Jews do not believe Jesus is the Messiah; it is not her place to insistent on it. She should have respected Mathilda’s faith. They can both have a respectful friendship and believe in different theologies.
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Amazing! Heart wrenching! What I Would Tell You will be on my list of greatest books I have read! College student, Tessa, and her cousin have DNA testing done and learn that their ancestry does not match! Tessa's shows Greek Jewish ancestry when she isn't Jewish! I loved how Tessa went to Greece to see how this is possible! Tessa is loaned a journal by someone with her ancestral surname. The historical timeline is during World War II when Mathilde publishes a secret newspaper and tries to warn people what is coming. Mathilde learns that loving sometimes requires sacrifices. Author Liz Tolsma has written a mesmerizing story of the Thessalonica area during the late 1930s. What I Would Tell You should be required reading! I received an advance e-book through Barbour Publishing and NetGalley. This is my honest opinion.
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“You must be ready. The story of the Jews in Thessaloniki, or Salonika as they called it at the time, is not happy. It is sometimes hard to hear. Sometimes it rips your heart right from your chest. You saw the names on the wall. They each represent a person. They are not just letters written on a piece of stone.”
I must begin my review with this quote because it sets the tone of much of the book. Yes, there is hope infused by the faith that Liz Tolsma includes, but it must shine out of a very dark time.

“This is the day I dreaded, the day I feared might come, the day I prayed never would. Greece will never be the same.” So writes Mathilda Nissim in her diary in 1941 in Salonika, Greece, in Liz Tolsma’s What I Would Tell You. Wow!! My question would be, can I, or you, read this book, and be the same? I cried. I think I may cry some for days to come. The historical part of this powerful dual timeline focuses on a young Jewish woman and how her life changes as the German occupation begins and bears down on her people.

Mathilda and her friends are so real with their fears and their love for each other, the way they bolster each other up as needed. I can taste their fears and feel their hunger. My feet freeze and I worry how to keep a young child quiet. Who to trust? And the biggest question is, why is God turning His back on His people?
In the present-day timeline, I enjoyed the modern sites and tastes of Thessaloniki with Tessa. Tolsma has sold me on the idea of a trip to Greece. But what a discovery Tessa starts in motion when she visits the Jewish museum in Thessaloniki!! Will discovering the roots of her past lead her to a new and improved future?

A must-read from Barbour Books!
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:
“I am more afraid of what will happen if we do nothing than of what will happen if we do something.”

“We can’t live in a land where we made different choices. That’s a place where only crazy people live. What we have to do now is face what is to come with our heads held high. We can’t allow them to rob us of our dignity.”
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A dual-timeline novel about two woman struggling to live their identity in their times. Mathilda Nissim is a Sephardic Jew living in Greece, she uses her pen to bring hope and encouragement to others as the Germans close in. In the present day, Riley goes on a quest to find out more about her ancestors after a DNA test renders unexpected results, finding herself on the adventure of a lifetime. 

A well researched book that does an excellent job of bringing to life the terrors that the Jewish people faced in Greece during the war. This was an intriguing read, as I had not heard about the Sephardic Jews before reading this novel, nor is Greece often the setting for a WWII novel. 

This was a well written book, I liked the friendship between Mathilda and Joanna as well as how Joanna selflessly takes risks and does everything that she can for Mathilda. I also appreciated how it also emphasized the gospel, and the hope we have in Christ. 

Overall, this was a great unique angle on the war an things that many faced at the hands of the Nazis. Great for fans of historical fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Thank you Netgalley for letting me review this story. My opinions are entirely my own.

I loved loved loved this book until page 112 then our love affair started to end.

To start with the positives: I loved how the two eras in the book with easy to go between and not hard to keep track of our characters. The writing was just a delight to read and the author has a gift of drawing us in.

The negatives: the Tess' life seemed too unbelievable as did Ioanna being able to walk as freely in the ghetto as she did. The thing I disliked the most was the suggestion that Jesus was allowing this to happen to bring people closer to him. It reminded me too much of an old pastor that insinuated that Christian's who got Cancer weren't true believers.  It hit a nerve of mine
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My emotions are a disaster right now after finishing this amazing book. I love that this is a dual timeline and how the author brings the past and present together in a brilliant way. It is evident that the author did extensive research about a war that had no mercy to those the Germans didn’t like. Their hatred for Jewish people was overwhelming to me. The scene where an innocent older man is beat to death then  stomped on brought fresh tears to my eyes. 

The author takes us  to the present where we travel alongside Tessa as she discovers who her ancestors were. A simple DNA test that tells her  about her heritage surprises her so much that she is determined to find answers. I found Tessa to be brave traveling by herself so far away without knowing  anyone in Greece. I was just as intrigued as she was to discover who her relatives were and how they  would tie into Mathilda’s  life. Her journey will take her on a road to discover secrets that were  meant to stay hidden.  As she learns more about what people had to endure she understands that the memories are difficult to hear. 

Mathilda is my favorite character from the story. The author seems to spend a bit more time on her character and she came to life for me. The times were getting very hard as she witnesses her husband being taken away by German soldiers. She doesn’t accept what has happened and  hopes to get the  other women to come together to find a way to get their men back home. I did fear for  her safety as she is also caring a child. She wasn’t able to share the good news with her husband before  he was forced to leave with the  other men. Promises from the Germans that the men would return unharmed  was  hard to believe so Mathilda comes up with an idea to  get them home. 

There is so many details about the story that I want to share but I don’t want to ruin anything for readers. I was shocked at some of the outcome for people but I also witnessed faith, hope and trust for a better life. Sacrifices were made that  were  done with unconditional love just like God sacrificed His only son for our sins. I was thrilled to see how the author had faith elements in the story and how it helped to give strength to those facing difficult times. I cried at the end and didn’t want to leave Tess and Mathilda. They  are an inspiration to me and their story is forever imprinted on my heart. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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Oh my what a compelling story! I really enjoyed both storylines in this dual timeline story, and could not put it down. Mathilda & Asher Nissim's story set during WWII in Thessaloniki Greece is heartbreaking and inspiring. And the "What I would tell you" letter had me crying. In the present day story, totally unexpected DNA test results has Tessa Payton leaving everything she knows and traveling to Greece to get answers and find her identity. She finds so much more. What an achingly beautiful journey of discovery, faith, and reconciliation.

I highly recommend it! Lovers of historical fiction with a modern day tie-in will thoroughly enjoy What I Would Tell You by Author Liz Tolsma.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for allowing me to read a copy. All opinions are my own.
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What I Would Tell You is another fabulous read by the talented author, Liz Tolsma. I have loved every single book I have read by her and this one is now my new favorite. It was interesting how she was able to make the past and present collide. I could not put it down until I had the whole book read in one sitting. A wonderful way to spend on a cold day. 

What I Would Tell You will be getting a very well deserved five plus stars. I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy reading clean historical fiction, particularly from the World War II era, as well as, split time novels. As always, I will be eagerly awaiting for more books to release from Liz Tolsma.

I received a paperback copy of What I Would Tell You from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.
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Amazing book set in WW2 with a my duel-timeline! Liz Tolsma tells a powerful story of a young Jewish woman who has to make impossible, heartbreaking decisions . Mathilda is such a courageous woman who will do anything to fight the evil that is occuring around her. When she and her husband are forced into a ghetto shortly after finding out that she's pregnant, she comes face to face with impossible decisions. 
In present day we meet Tessa who is shocked to find out that she is party Jewish. She travels to Greece to find out her history. How is she connected to Mathilda?
This book was so well written and really tugs on your heartstrings, making you think.
A must read!
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I'm yawing today but not because this was a boring book. Quite the opposite. I could not put it down and managed to read it all in one evening. This was a wonderful story because it included so much truth about the horrors of the Holocaust. The characters were fictional, but the setting was real and up close. 
Admittedly, some of it was hard to read, but that's to be expected in a book about the Holocaust. The little touches of romance and family angst were real as well, not contrived. Joanna was my favorite character. What a heartwarming and loving person she was and what a great thing she did for her friend. I kept trying to figure it all out before I ever reached the end, but was still surprised when the whole story was finally revealed.
This story will live in my thoughts for a long while to come. I learned so much, was greatly entertained and found a new-to-me author. I will definitely be reading more from Liz Tolsma in the future.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
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This book was an absolute gem. I finished it quickly but it took a while to process. I have read many books surrounding WWII and the Holocaust but never one based in Greece. It was interesting to learn about that area during the war. This split time novel brings about so many tough choices, tears, and healing. I haven’t read this author before but get many recommendations from her podcast so it was a joy to be able to read her writing. 

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the chance to read and review this book. All opinions are my own.
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What I Would Tell You is a well written historical book.   The plot and characters are well crafted and believable.  I definitely recommend this book.  My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance ebook.  This is my unbiased review.
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After I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down.  It struck a lot of chords in my life because I am a genealogist and have found long missing family through DNA and years of research. As well as traveling to those places as did Tessa Payton in this split time period book.  I totally related to Mathilda, as my mother experienced many similar WWII experiences in Germany but as a Christian.  So I have to say, I was totally captivated from page 1 to the very end.  The story totally took me to Greece and I felt and understood exactly the fear, the emotion and the heartache as Mathilda experienced them.  It was an amazing book and I love the beautiful friendship between Mathilda and Ioanna.  
The split story time is from 2019 and WWII and about secrets never shared.  It's a beautifully written book.  I can highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing.  All thoughts are my own.
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What I Would Tell You
by Liz Tolsma
Pub Date 01 Jan 2023 
 Barbour Publishing,  Barbour Fiction
 Christian  |  Historical Fiction  |  Mystery & Thrillers 


I am reviewing a copy of What I Would Tell You through Barbour and Netgalley:



A Greek Jewish women is determined to resist the invading Nazi's.  But soon her greatest dream has become her worst nightmare, and now she faces an impossible choice whose consequences echo across the generations. 



The year is 1941, on the streets of Salonika, Greece, reverberates in Mathilda Nissim’s ears, shaking her large community of Sephardic Jews to its core and altering her life forever. If only her people would rise up and resist their captors.  At great risk to herself and those around her, she uses the small newspaper she publishes to call them to action, all to no avail. Her husband encourages her to trust God to watch over them, but God has once again deserted His people. Amid the chaos, Mathilda discovers she’s expecting a longed-for child. Still, nothing stops the occupiers’ noose from tightening around their necks, and she may have to resort to desperate measures to ensure her daughter’s survival.


The year is 2019 when Tessa Payton and her cousin take a popular DNA heritage test only to discover they don’t share any common ancestors. In fact, the test reveals Tessa is a Greek Sephardic Jew. This revelation threatens her tenuous faith. Always the overlooked child in her family, she empties her savings account and jets off on a journey to Greece to discover where she belongs and which God demands her allegiance. The enchanting curator at the Jewish museum guides her as she navigates life in Thessaloniki, helps with her genealogical research, and loans her a fascinating journal written by a Jewish woman during WWII. Tessa’s search, however, may open old wounds and uncover long-hidden secrets that could fracture her family forever and leave her with more questions than when she started.



What I Would Tell You is based on part of true accounts of Jews in Salonika, Greece.    This book traces two women’s journeys, delving into what faith looks like and where it leads us as they navigate difficult circumstances and impossible choices that have ripple effects across the years.



I give What I Would Tell You five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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this is a very informative inspirational read. The characters are complex and awe inspiring. This haunting tragic page turner will capture your heart. This author writes with heartfelt feeling and does much research into history to make the story more intense. A must read!
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Such a heartbreakingly beautiful book about a Jewish family in Greece during WWII and a young adult trying to uncover her past. When Tessa's family DNA comes back remarkably different than her cousin's, she begins to wonder about her Jewish heritage and travels to Greece to see what she can uncover about her ancestors. I loved the dual timeline and that the reader discovers Mathilda's past right alongside Tessa. I read this book in only a few sittings as I couldn't put it down and kept wanting to learn more about the characters and their journeys. I really appreciated the author's notes highlighting what was true versus fiction. Highly recommend for lovers of historical fiction.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
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My first thought when I learned about this book and its plot is exactly my first thought as I closed the cover. 

It's about time.

It's about time that the world learned more of Greek history. It didn't end in the BC era with Sophocles and Demosthenes and other Stoics. It didn't end after Jesus' death or the rise of Christianity through the known world. In many ways, Greek history mirrors Jewish history in how they had their times of strength and prosperity and their times of being conquered and overrun by those who saw the Greeks as beneath them. When Paul said "neither Jew nor Greek," I feel like there's a parallel there that "What I Would Tell You" illustrates perfectly.

This split-time novel focuses not just on history and uncovering one's past to understand the present. It also focuses on perception, a mother's love, standing up for what is right, and against what is wrong. In the end, however, it focuses on our identity being in Christ--that any other isn't worthy of what He sacrificed for us.

Tolsma walks us through the streets of Thessaloniki--Salonica--and I felt as if I were there. That isn't usually a compliment from me, but when an author does it as well as she did, it's just right. In this book her description is more like bathing in a warm sea as opposed to drowning in it. Well done.

There were a few places that, in typical Tolsma style, the effusiveness of love and affection became a bit much for me, but that's probably my problem rather than hers. :)

If you love to be immersed into a story full of rich culture, a frank and yet sensitive look into history's darker hours, and relationships you want to root for, what I would tell you is to grab a copy of this book... now.
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What I Would Tell You
 A heart-warming, thrilling and eyes opening story! Liz Tolsma is a great writer of historical fiction. She knows how to pull her readers into the story from the very beginning. The characters become a part of your family and the story will bring out several emotions.  This is one amazing book!

I recommend that "What I Would Tell You" is a wonderful read!

Rating this book a 5 out of 5. If I could rate it a 10 I would.
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