Cover Image: The Stars Are Our Witness

The Stars Are Our Witness

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Member Reviews

We follow the lives of a brother and sister Adela and Azriel and their friend Izabel during WW2 Poland. Siobhan Curham writes wonderful books that reminds you of the resilience of many during dark times and the spirit of love and hope, The Stars Are Our Witness continues that, with its characters courage and bravery from Warsaw through to the ghetto and to Auschwitz. You are swept into a heartfelt, heartwarming story of family, love, loss, forgiveness and sacrifice. A highly recommended emotional historical fiction WW2 read. 4 ½ stars.

I would like to thank Bookouture, NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read this complimentary copy for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#TheStarsAreOurWitness #NetGalley #Bookouture

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This book is gut-wrenching and uplifting, depressing and inspiring, hate-filled and loved-filled. This was a beautiful story set in the ugly period of WWII. It’s very well-written and interesting and one of the best books I’ve read in a while.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.

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The Stars Are Our Witness is a novel about the resilience, bravery and enduring love of those imprisoned in Auschwitz and their supporters. I have to admit this book had a slow start for me but by the time I got a third of the way through I was fully invested in the storyline and characters.

This story is full of heart and soul. Despite being heartbreaking at times the underlying takeaway for me was that even a small bit of progress is still progress. Have courage and be strong in the face of adversity and we are all indeed proof that magic exists.

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My Review: A very hard hitting story, told from 3 different perspectives. Adela, her best friend Izabel and Adela's brother Azrael. It's gripping, heart breaking, and a little soul destroying. Given the subject matter that needed to stay true to the sacrifices made during WWII. It definitely makes you think, especially knowing what happened at Auschwitz from the recount of survivors, the author does an incredible job bringing that to live and the sacrifices, as well and the atrocities.

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What a stunning cover and a captivating title the new book from Siobhan Curham has. The Stars Are Our Witness stood out to me as soon as I saw the cover reveal and with that haunting picture of a camp on the cover I knew I would be in for a heart rending and powerful read. It is predominantly set in Warsaw during the war years starting in January 1940 and subsequently split into three distinct parts. The story focuses on a Jewish family named the Rubinsteins. Adela lives with her mother and father Estera and Leopold and her brother Aziel has left the family home after a disagreement with his father over leaving his studies to be a doctor. The whereabouts of Azriel are unknown. The family run a store but can’t sell much due to the new laws imposed upon Jews since the Germans invaded Warsaw. Theirs’s is a life is full of danger and anxiety as more and more laws are introduced as the Germans are determined to snuff out the Jews existence.

Adela’s best friend since childhood is Izabel but she is Catholic and not under the same restrictions as the Rubinstein’s and this will stand to her at times of extreme danger. But yet in the end no one is safe from the clutches of a force that is hell bent on taking over the world. Azriel makes a surprise reappearance at the family home and he is a man filled with courage, grit and determination which never wavers throughout the book. He sees the bigger picture and through his resistance work he knows what is coming down the line. Whilst others are prepared to bury their head in the sand he joins the Bund, a secret group set up in Warsaw, to engage in resistance activities. The relationship between Azriel and his father is a tentative one and it seems as if they are on opposing sides as he has become a member of the Judenrat. The Judenrat was a Jewish council set up and controlled by the Nazi’s. But the war is far from over and Adela and Azriel know that they must do anything within their power to contribute to the downfall of Hitler.

The chapters are told from several viewpoints, that of Adela, Azriel and Izabel and I found there to be a frantic pace switching back and forth between the various characters. I did find this difficult to get used to but once I did I found myself settling into the story. Given the blurb mentioned Auschwitz I presumed this would be where the majority of the story would be set but this wasn’t the case. With every new chapter I expected the plot to move to this location but it only occurs in part three. It was only as I reached this part that I realised the rest of the story provided the foundations and background to what would form a story of loyalty, bravery, family and friendship in the most difficult of times.

Adela works in an orphanage secretly given lessons to the children there and as rumours grow that the Nazi’s plan to build a ghetto in Warsaw and imprison the Jewish population within the walls her fears grow that her family will be torn apart. Jaksi runs the orphanage and always gives Adela the best of advice. They become more than friends and the magical motto he provides her with will carry her through turmoil, torture and terror. ’I am made of water and stardust. My very existence is proof of magic.’ As the chapters pass by detailing the changes to the Rubinstein’s lives the sense of rage and hopelessness grows. Such hatred, barbarity and oppression is inflicted by the Germans and Adela knows she needs to do more. That she can’t sit by and let her world splinter into fragments that will be impossible to piece together. She helps Azriel with his resistance work and I admired the guts she had to place herself in danger. More wise words from Jaksi are what Adela clings to as the family become trapped behind the ghettos walls. ’If you’re ever feeling sad, scared, or alone, use the magic of your imagination and pretend to be something or somewhere else’. Soon everyone’s worst fears are realised as Jews are rounded up in the ghetto and deported to labour camps with the final destination beyond their wildest imagination. Here the strength of the human spirit and the resilience and fortitude of Azriel and Adela come to the fore.

As there were three main characters it was inevitable I was going to be drawn to one over the others and I was quite surprised to find that it was Izabel who was the stand out character for me. She was brilliantly written and given she was of a different religion to Adela and her family you would have thought that she wouldn’t have suffered as much so to speak. Hers was a different story which interlinked with Adela’s and I found her to be such a fabulous character. She was fiery, feisty and a flirt. This last characteristic would stand her in good stead when she decides that she too will do her bit to help the family that have meant so much to her. She would never lay down and accept the fate that was steamrolling towards the Rubinstein’s and so many others. I thought she used her talents and means very well and placed herself in compromising and dangerous situations when she needn’t have. Which only served to show how loyal and devoted she was to Adela and her family and someone special in particular. I found the turn of events quite surprising for Izabel and it was brave of the author to do this as she could have left her in comfort and her character could have been put to the side in part three of the story. Instead, she was utilised very well and I thought it connected brilliantly to what Azriel and Adela were going through.

Part three was the standout section of the book as things took on a menacing and sinister tone and the setting mentioned in the blurb came to the fore. It was haunting and some of the scenes described no matter how many times I have read a book based on the topic of World War Two well it all hit home even more here. It served as a stark reminder to never forget what countless men, women and children went through and it should never be allowed to happen again. Adela, Azriel and Izabel show their true strength and incredible courage and demonstrated how love and hope are the two emotions that would serve them well in the darkest of hours. Everything built to an unbelievable climax and I found my heart was in my mouth as I rapidly turned the pages to discover what would happen next. I had my fingers crossed for a certain outcome, knowing really that everything couldn’t have turned out the way I wanted it to. The story needed to stay true to its roots and I think Siobhan Curham did this with the ending she provided.

The Stars Are Our Witness was a powerful story packed full of emotion and characters that you really come to care for. You place your trust in them and root for them all the way with their acts of resistance. The love, hope steadfastness, devotion and fearlessness shines through from every page. The fact that vast elements of the story were based on true events made me appreciate everything all the more and by the end I felt as if I had been on a roller-coaster and I wasn’t particularly willing to get off and leave the characters behind.

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The Stars Are Our Witness by Siobhan Curham

One of the best WW2 historical fiction I have ever read.

The story had three POVs, two Jewish kids and one non-Jewish kid. From various POV, it let you had an all-rounded idea of the story. I was hooked from the beginning of the story and it made me desperate to know what's going next. The story setting was heart-breaking and emotional. Some parts were disturbing, but these all made the story fuller. The characters are smartly created by the author. They were likeable.

The story also described the events happened in Auschwitz which were unforgettable. Even this is a page-turner book, but is was quite hard for me when it came to the Auschwitz's part - too hard to imagine the life at that time.

If you can only read one WW2 related book, this is the one I highly recommend!

Many thanks to Netgalley, Bookouture and the author for my copy.

Pub date: April 26, 2024

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The Stars Are Our Witness by Siobhan Curham is a story of friendship, love, strength and fortitude that will shred your heart as much as it inspires it. I have read many novels detailing the atrocities of the Holocaust of WW2 and every time, my heart and soul are wrenched and torn, but this book does not sugar-coat the raw truth of the human experience and environment, reminiscent of John Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas). I am not comparing the two books, I am comparing the exceptional skill of both writers to place you right in the environment in which they are writing about, vivd, emotive, like you are there

I have not read any Siobhan Curham books before and I can say after this book, I will be searching out more books. Am I a sucker for punishment? No, I adore historical fiction for its role in keeping history alive through human experience and human voices, reminding us of what has gone before

Told from multiple pov's, the story tells of prisoners in Auschwitz, one Polish, two Jewish, smuggling a teaspoon of gunpowder each time they came back from working in the munitions factory, in the hope they can destroy the crematoria where so many souls had been lost. However, the plan has a major dilemma, one which is almost impossible to overcome

This book is absolutely brilliant, it left me absolutely bebreft, my heart cracked and my eyes red raw. A tragic tale with a seam of glittering hope, a book that deserves to be a bestseller

Thank you to Netgalley, Bookouture and the incredible Siobhan Curham for this stunning ARC. My review is left voluntarily and all opinions are my own

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This story starts in Warsaw. Adela and Izabelle have been best friends since childhood, one Jewish and the other Catholic. It’s told from 3 perspectives, Adela and Azriel, brother and sister, and Izabel. Horrified at the plans that Germany has for the Jews in Warsaw they decide to work together to fight them. The three of them join the resistance. The story starts in the Warsaw Ghetto and ends in Auschwitz.

This was a beautifully told rich story, which told not just the horrors of what the characters went through, but was full of hope. It was a heartbreaking and poignant story. One of my favorite quotes from the story was “I am made of water and stardust. My very existence is proof of magic.”

Thanks to @bookouture, @netgalley, and this story's author for the ARC.

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Siobhan Curham does a fantastic job in making this historical fiction novel, it had everything that I was looking for from the description. The characters worked with the World War 2 elements and had a realistic feel to it. The characters were everything that I wanted and thought the overall feel worked. I was with the characters and cared about what happened to them.

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This book! The Stars of Our Witness by Siobhan Curham is definitely five stars from me.

I sat and read for an entire day, which I never do, but I had to find out what happened next in each chapter. I taught about the Holocaust to 8th grade students for over 20 years, so I have read A LOT of books on this topic. To be honest, I didn't think I wanted to read any more on the topic, but I was curious about this one. I am so glad I read it.

Although the characters are fiction, each of the events in the book are based on real occurrences. After teaching about it, I was surprised to still learn so much of what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto and Auschwitz. The book focuses are three main characters, two of which are Jewish and one is Polish. I loved each of the characters, and Curham does a great job of bringing them to life. All three of the characters add to the resistance fight that is known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. Each of the characters showed such bravery in their own ways.

This book touched my heart, and at times, it was hard to read. It would be a great book for discussion in a high school and/or college classroom.

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Siobhan Curham for sharing this book with me.

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Many thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to be part of the Books on Tour for The Stars Are Our Witness by Siobhan Curham. This book is gut wrenching and it will leave you breathless and sobbing.
This book is told from the point of view of three characters- Adela, her brother Azriel and Izabel, Adela’s best friend. Adela is sent to Auschwitz, and becomes part of the underground movement there. I don’t want to give too much away, but you will not put this book down.
I was reading this while my husband had the television on. I was watching the students at Columbia University, which I have taken many training classes at, violently protesting and hurling Anti Semitic slurs. My heart was breaking and I wanted to scream at the tv. How can we allow this to occur again? This book showed the true utter horror of hate. Why are we allowing this to go on? Many of the students don’t even know why they are protesting. Maybe they should read books like this one to know what really happened.
Many thanks to the author, Bookouture and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
#TheStarsAreOurWitness #NetGalley #Bookouture #BookLove #BooksSetDuringWWII #Bookstagram #NewBook #ILoveBooks

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This book is based on the true stories of the Jews in Warsaw during WW2. It is a harrowing tale, deeply disturbing as so vividly portrayed. It’s told from three POV, mainly Adela, & also her brother Azriel, both Polish Jews. They have their lives turned upside down by the Nazi repression. Then there’s their Catholic best friend Izabel. She’s a fierce supporter of the Jews & suffers terribly for her boldness. The Nazis stupidly told people that the Jews spread diseases. It’s gutsy & raw, telling in detail how people survived these awful times. Short punchy chapters keep pages turning.

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World War II rages on across Europe and the Nazis have their sights set on occupying Poland. Adela Rubenstein works in a munition’s factory at Auschwitz, the year is 1943. She hears about an underground network that has formed. Without a second thought she joins the resistance. The women are only allowed to smuggle small amounts of gunpowder at a time. They hide gunpowder in their dresses and every night they wonder if they will get caught. She reminisces about home, her memories of her family are the only things that keep her going. She misses her brother Azriel and her best friend Izabel. She holds on to the hope that they are still alive. As the war rages on and the Poland is about to be invaded by the Nazis. Adela comes face to face with her brother. She is elated that she has found him and will never let him go. He becomes part of the resistance and joins the cause to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves.

Wow, this heart wrenching story is one that I couldn’t put down. I cheered for Adela, Azriel, and Izabel and found my heart racing, with tears flowing down my face at the turn of each page. This story was hard to read, knowing that many of the events actually happened. This heartbreaking story is full of love, loss and the bonds of friendship and family, with indescribable hope, and joy. I was so inspired by the bravery of each character and what they were willing to sacrifice for people they didn’t know. Siobhan Curham pens an unbelievable, phenomenal story that will definitely be a best read story of 2024. I highly recommend this ten star read.

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Auschwitz 1943, Adela is a prisoner there. Every night she and other women are able to smuggle out tiny bits of gunpowder. She wonders what happened to her brother, until she sees him and has to make a choice. It showed me a different side of Auschwitz.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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This is a heartbreaking and emotional stories of three brave young people Adela, Azriel and Isabel during the German occupation in Poland during World War II.

The story is told in their POVs. All three are involved in the resistance movement and Isabels loyalty towards her Jewish friends make her a very likable character as she risked her own life helping them.

The descriptions used in the book are all too real the description of Warsaw Ghetto, the dire conditions at both the Ghetto and Auschwitz the brutal treatment by the Nazis is general were at times too heartbreaking and emotional to read. Despite being a historical fiction we know that these events did occur in real life. Holocaust is something that we should never forget.

All in all, the whole story was beautifully written engaging and shows the true meaning of friendship and loyalty. Worth five stars

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only

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If you are a mood reader and are in the mood for something emotional, this is your book!

This was an emotional, heartbreaking and gripping read. It was very hard to put this book down. There were a few times that I had wished I could call in to work just so I could keep reading! This story was hooking and especially because it was based on a true story.

I give this 5 stars and will recommend everyone read it!

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would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this awesome book

oh man where to start with this book......

i could talk about the childhood friendship that lasted through the generations but it goes beyond that
i could say about the family dynamics that occur but they happen everyday....

but what doesnt is war and the behaviours that occur

but first we meet adela and her friend izabel one if jewish and the other is polish, that friendship is tested many times during the nazi regime

when the ghetto goes up izabel is smuggling in food for them and anything else they may need but for me its when Auschwitz appears that this story really hits you hard and what happens there

i admit there is a scene that brought tears to my eyes and as i dont want to spoil the story to much with spoilers here i just recommend that you read it yourself

this book will haunt you but its the friendships that shine in this book for me, such heartbreak in this book... but friends are friends forever

i look forward to reading another book by this author

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This heart breaking novel The Stars Are Our Witness by Siobhan Curham left me devastated. I felt so much compassion for the characters. The horrors they went through ripped me to shreds. We all have read how horrible the Jewish people were treated, suffered and died under the hands of the Nazis regime but Siobhan somehow makes it even more real in the way she writes. My heart bled for these people. The innocent children, the everyday person just trying to live their life stopped by the iron fist of prejudice and hatred. I don’t know if there are any words I can say to express the anguish I felt in reading this historical fiction novel, knowing this sort of activity really happened.

The story is told from three perspectives: Jewish Adela and Azriel (sister and brother) and their Polish friend Izabel. Together these three along with others become part of the Resistance.

The setting starts in Warsaw 1940. Adela was midway through her degree in literature at Warsaw University when the Germans took over occupation of Poland. At this point they forbid Jewish people from having an education. But she finds a way to help in teaching children, working with Jaski, a lovely character who inspires her greatly (and whose courage made me cry). He has a saying that becomes her mantra. Words that give her courage about remembering she is made of stardust and that she is proof that magic exists.

Azriel moved away four years earlier to Krakau to study medicine but dropped out part way through. He had a conflict with his father and nobody has seen him since. But one day he returns and reunites with his family and friends. He becomes heavily involved in the Resistance and his courage is tested and demonstrated over and over. I really liked Azriel and his care for his sister, plus his budding romance with Izabel. I could feel the tender love between them carrying them through some rough times.

Izabel is Polish – best friend of Adela. They are in many ways kindred spirits. Izabel will do anything to save her Jewish friends. Her courage and acting skills come into play as she gleans secret information from a Nazis soldier who takes interest in her. This leads her down some dangerous paths—even to Auschwitz where her Jewish friends also end up. She will do whatever it takes to protect those she loves. It will cause division between her and her family.

The descriptions and activities at Auschwitz made me shudder and weep. The scattered clothing, the naked bodies, sent icy chills not only through Azriel but me, too. I was uttering the same thoughts, Please let this horror be over. The tortures these people faced were beyond our worst imaginings. There is an interesting comparison made by Azriel of his trials. He thought what he experienced in the Warsaw Ghetto was awful and that ‘life couldn’t get any worse’ but Auschwitz was ‘without a shadow of doubt, the worst place on earth.’ The words: Welcome to hell, as one woman said, were so true.

There are so many touching scenes in this novel and one between Azriel and his father Leopold at Auschwitz, I don’t think I will ever forget. As they made peace with each other, the demonstration and brilliance of love, forgiveness and sacrifice made me weep.

Over and over Siobhan shows us through her beloved characters, the courage with which many of these women and men fought back. It gave them hope, strength and purpose being part of something organised to battle against the Germans. There were also physical reminders like Izabel’s pendant of Saint Bridget that kept her believing she could survive and reunite with her friends.

There were those who were forced to fight against the Jews who did not want to. One soldier in the story was quite horrified by all that was happening. This helps us remember there were people caught in the middle between duty and conscience and the desire to flee and not get blood on their hands. Some of these people tried to make amends and sought forgiveness by helping those who were persecuted.

Adela keeps the words “Be strong and have courage’ foremost in her heart when faced with some awful scenes. ‘There, glimmering in the dark, was the most incredible array of stars, also bearing witness to the breathtaking resilience of the human spirit.’ This is the theme of the novel and obviously the inspiration for the book’s title. A message that sings of the determination for human survival. And that love is greater than hate. Although the Nazis tried to destroy the Jews, their actions actually ‘intensified’ the Jewish people’s love for family and friends.

Although this is historical fiction, it is an incredible tribute to the lives of those who endured and those who perished. One of the beautiful aspects of this story is how it shines with the resilience and power of the human spirit. But the main reason this story exists is to remind us of the past horrors so as not to repeat such history. The author has successfully done this and her powerful delivery has changed my heart forever. 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for my review copy.

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Incredible! This will certainly be a top book for 2024. This is the first book by Siobhan Curham that I've read, and I can't wait to read the rest of her books.
The story is incredibly heartbreaking - love, loss, the strong bonds of family and friends, and fighting for what is right. The story is told with incredible detail that really makes you feel what the main characters are living through and trying to survive through.
I can't recommend this book enough and is one of the best WWII historical fiction books I've read (and I read a lot of them!).

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A tough read in spots but it's excellent historical fiction, Adela, her brother Azriel and their friend, Izabel are caught in WWII Warsaw, Izabel, a Catholic, will do her best to support Adela and Azriel but the Nazis were bigger than all of them. Who will survive? No spoilers. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.

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