by Roberta Kagan
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Pub Date 16 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 17 Jan 2023
When three little girls—Anna, Bernie, and Elica—make a pact to be blood sisters for life, they believe nothing can come between them.
Anna is from an affluent Jewish family, while Bernie and Elica are from poor Austrian families who barely make ends meet. As they get older, their social differences become all too real.
With infectious Jew-hate-laden rhetoric from Nazi Germany spreading into Austria, it is only a matter of time before their bond of friendship gets severely tested.
How strong is a bond sealed in blood?
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 96 members
Thanks to NetGalley I got an ARC to this book in exchange for an honest review and I liked it a lot. There was a lot of watching girls become women and how to navigate that journey. But it is also not too light for the setting either, which I would imagine would be a tricky line to tread and keep readers interested. I couldn’t put the book down and was relieved to see it was “book one”. Hoping that book two picks up where this one left off.
The title The Pact could not be more apt...the words conjure up many images, many possibilities. Is the pact kept? Is it not? This harrowing book is about sisterhood, class disparity, courage, love, hope, shame, hatred, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. Twists, turns and surprises wait around the sunniest and murkiest corners. My emotions were all over the place as I read, anxious to turn each page, eager to discover more.
In 1929 in Austria Jews are persecuted. Young girls Anna, Bernie and Elica become friends under unusual circumstances and make a blood pact to become Sisters in Blood to help each other out always. Their backgrounds are very different...Anna is a Jew from a wealthy family and Bernie and Elica are both poor Gentiles. As time goes on, the new führer is spreading his hateful "filthy Jew" ideology and shockingly, even friends and neighbours turn each other in, sometimes out of spite or retribution, other times from fear or in need of protection. A fourth girl, Dagna, joins the group but for the wrong reasons. As you imagine in a story containing a mix of Jews and Gentiles during such turbulent times, there are bound to be mental and physical skirmishes.
The class divide is evinced at the girls' birthday parties and by the reactions of their parents to girls beneath or above their class. Political standings can make or break relationships. As the girls grow older they develop their own ideas and go separate ways, though meet when possible. Easier said than done. Wealthy Jews have everything taken away and are reduced to nothing as they, too, are "subhuman". The girls fall in and out of love and must make difficult moral and ethical choices. Meanwhile, the world changes all around them as their worlds within change.
Author Roberta Kagan writes with a powerful and insightful drive as she fills her books with minutest details and matters of the heart, not to mention the intense sorrow and pain of war. She also describes her inspiration for her new series.
Historical Fiction readers who do not know author Roberta Kagan, now is the time! Talk about an excellent place to start in the genre. And for those who do, you are sure to enjoy this book very much.
My sincere thank you to The Book Whisperer and NetGalley for providing me with an early digital copy of this superb book. The potential for stories in the subsequent instalments is huge and I cannot wait to see what happens to the characters next.
A great book even though it was not what I expected. I did not realize the book ends in 1940. Once I got started reading, I never wanted to put the book down, I wanted to know what choices the girls were going to make next.
The book is about 4 different girls growing up in Vienna from 1929 to 1940. The girls are in 3rd grade when the books starts and should have finished high school when the book ends. I expected WWII to separate the girls and cause them to go different directions. But the story is like real life - the girls come together and grow apart over and over in the book as they mature. The girls are growing up and not concerned with what is going on in the world around them. Only when it impacts their immediate families or friends do they deal with life outside of their schools, homes, books, friends and boyfriends.
The history of what was going on in Austria and Germany during this time was interesting. The fact that Jews felt safe during this time in history in Austria is hard to understand. Hitler was slowly moving his plan along and teaching the German people to hate the Jews without really giving them a good reason.
The book has a cliff hanger ending, so I wish the next book was available to start reading now! I will definitely read it.
The Pact by Roberta Kagan
This is book one in Roberta Kagans new serious The Blood Sisters.
Anna, Elica and Bernie are best friends growing up in Austria in 1929 and want to form an even deeper bond then just friendship, decide to form a pack by becoming blood sisters, Dagna bullies them to become part of the pact as she wants to do whatever Elica does but not with Anna as she hates Anna from the beginning as Anna is Jewish. Anna is not only from a Jewish family but is also rich from an upper-class to the other girls but that does not bother Elica or Bernie.
The book goes on over the next eleven years as the four girls grow into young women and we learn more about them and the effect life has on each one of them based on their class status and whether they are Jewish of not.
I enjoyed this book very much but there was one thing I did not like, in the prologue we read that Anna is seventeen years of age in 1940 but later in in the book as we look back on Anna’s life, she has a birthday party for her eleventh birthday in 1932.
I like how even though the book is mostly written from Anna’s point of view some chapters are written from the point of view of the other Characters like Elica, Bernie and Dagna. I cannot wait for the second book in this serious
I would like to thank Net Galley and The Book Whisperer for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
I enjoyed the character development starting so young helping to really show us who each character is right from the get go. I felt like I really knew each of the girls, however I hated two of them the whole way through. Given the time era though it would be unrealistic to love everyone. I found the description of the friend ship frustrating from chapter to chapter as it would be they’re close in one then the next page they’ve fallen apart. I felt the ending was rushed in comparison to the rest of the book. I do however love Anna’s character and look forward to reading book two to see where her story goes.
Thank you for the early read!
The Pact is a coming-of-age novel about a group of girls who bond in pre-WWII Austria: beautiful Elica, boyish Bernie, kind Anna who is a Jew, and mean Dagna who hates Jews and is only truly friendly with Elica. They make a "blood sisters" pact and Elica, Bernie, and Anna vow to be friends always. The writing drew me into the story right away but as the novel went on, it became darker as jealousy of Anna's wealthy Jewish family led to plot twists and turns. My only complaint about the story is that it ends with a cliffhanger so I have to wait until Book 2 to find out what happens to Anna and her family after the Anshluss.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
“The Pact” by Roberta Kagan is aptly named. This book follows three (really four) girls when they are children promising to be there for each other no matter what. What they don’t realize is that WWII will be looming in their lives in about a decade … and things no matter how much they hope will change.
What I liked about this book: the beginning section with the friendships. This was a bit full of tropes - the pretty girl, the smart girl - but the “promise to be your friend forever” bit did work - even though there were some twists and turns and some meanderings in the friendships. What I also liked was how Ms. Kagan brought the war into the book slowly. I also liked how the parents of the girls are not all “just there,” some of the parents are involved in the book in positive ways, which I appreciated. Ms. Kagan’s writing style is a bit simplistic, but it fits how the girls were at the beginning of the book. As the girls mature, the writing becomes a bit more complex, which I found fitting. I even liked that this book ends on a huge cliffhanger - stay tuned for book two.
My two minor complaints would be that there’s a bit of repeated information and also how quickly the girls fall into relationships - I’d call it insta-lust. Granted, these are teenagers, so I cut Ms. Kagan a bit of slack on that.
I think this book series could be an interesting one and I’m interested in reading the next book, at minimum, in this series.
The Pact is a WWII historical coming of age story. We follow three girls mainly ( there is an extra blood sister though). One being Jew, while the others are accepted.
In the prologue, we are introduced to Anna who has just been betrayed. Her and her family had been hiding in a tiny attic praying that the moment would pass over. Her main question of who betrayed her stayed with me throughout the book. It was a good read, especially the plot twists!
However, my main issue with the book is how incomplete some of the character building is. To me it doesn’t seem solid. We get introduced to a character and then get a few repeated descriptions of them and that’s it. It had me yearning for more of an in-depth story.
Another problem would be the dialogue. It’s stiff and somewhat forced, especially in the beginning. It felt like actors just getting into character and learning their lines. It made the conversations feel unnatural.
Seeing that this is book one, I can’t wait to continue reading for the next story!
Overall this book was very good! Keep me interested and I loved all the girls stories. I do wish there was a little more history woven in & was I losing it or were things repeated a lot? Definitely a great book to recommend to any historical fiction lover! Looking forward to more books in the series to come. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I immensely enjoyed reading this book. The story revolves around friendship, sisterhood, love, betrayal and above all life in general. I loved the way of writing. This is my first book from the author and I definitely look forward to reading more.
A story of friendship and sisterhood throughout childhood and coming of age. I enjoyed this story and how it tells the coming of age of several young girls in the midst of the beginnings of the German occupation. The story is one of uplifting friendships throughout the storm of life.
Thank you Netgalley and publisher for an arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
Publication: January 16, 2023
One of my favorite genres is historical fiction however, I think I have had too much with WW2 books. I have read a lot of them from young college student to now. I struggled to get into this book mostly because I think this piece of history has been overdone.
There are a lot of books out there that readers can read after this one. This is the typical plot of a band of people sticking together during a terrible time in our history.
Perfect for fans: new to WW2 books, historical fiction
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eArc!
The Pact follows 4 girls from a young age in Vienna, Austria until they are older teens during the lead up to and beginning of World War 2, and the struggles between the friends due to one being Jewish.
Historical fiction isn’t a typical genre I tend to read but I did enjoy this book and how it showed the coming of age of the characters. I do feel that the ending was a little rushed and that sometimes it was hard to keep track fully of the multiple changes in POV. But I definitely will pick up book 2 when it becomes available
I am writing this review for Net Galley.
In this story we follow 4 young women who live in Austria. It starts out telling us how the women became blood sisters at a very early age when people were slowly starting to not like Jews. Anna comes from a wealthy Jewish family. Her father had to work from the ground up when they moved from Russia to build his factory. Elica is a very beautiful girl whom all the boys either admired or wanted. Anna and Elica started off as two close friends until Elica met Bernie.
Anna was jealous at first when Elica became close friends to Bernie but in time started to really like her also. One day they decided to meet at the park to become blood sisters. When whom, should appear but the bully that no one really like Dagna. However, they decide to put up with her and let her join. Little did they know that Elica and Dagna would start hanging out together as time went on causing trouble that could change Anna's life.
I really enjoyed this story. I couldn't put it down. I didn't realize it was book one to a series until I finished it and was left with a cliff hanger. Now I cannot wait to pick up the next book. I really like a good Historical Fiction novel about women who come together to help each other out through difficult times. I highly recommend. There is not much I didn't like about the book except one part in the story that I couldn't wrap my mind around. So therefore, I rated this a 4. For the most part I really enjoyed this story.
I loved the writing! From the beginning I was immersed into the story. This started off with so much omph and anxiety! 1940 and the Jewish Levinstein's are hiding in an attic and hear footsteps down below. Trying to stay very quiet it looks like the Gestapo has found them! Then the story goes back in time to 1929 as it tells the story to 1940.
The cover is really attractive but it's not quite accurate to the story. It's about four girls really. They live in Austria. Anna, who is a well-to-do Jewish girl, and her two non-Jewish friends Elica and Bernie who are quite poor. They want to make a blood pact to become "blood sisters" for life. There is a fourth girl who is also very poor and her name is Dagna. She sort of weasles and threatens her way into the group but she is quite mean and not very well liked. She also is not nice at all to Anna because she's Jewish. So the story begins in 1929 as the girls are young and form a pact and it follows their lives just before World War II starts. The story focuses mainly on Anna in the beginning and her life and family. Then Elica and Bernie and a little of Dagna.
The story was always interesting but some of the characters were distressing and frustrating but that is to be expected with this Wartime story.
This is the first in a series and it does end with a cliffhanger and I'll be sure to pick up the next book. This is my first Roberta Kagan novel but not my last! I enjoyed her Author's notes at the end and how she explained that although these stories are heavy she always tries to write them from a place of love and kindness. I think that really came through in the character of Anna.
I'd like to Kindly thank NetGalley and The Book Whisperer for granting me access to this Advance Reader Copy.
This book seemed to be more for a younger audience than I was expecting. I enjoyed it and the writing flowed very well which always makes reading more enjoyable. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger…I’ll be waiting to read the next one to find out what happens.
This story follows 4 young girls from childhood friends who become blood sisters to young adults. Anna, Elica, Bernie and Dagna live is Austria. Anna is from a wealthy Jewish family…that causes a lot of jealousy from the other girls. Specially Dagna…she was a very frustrating character. This story is just before WW2 begins and things will soon be turning…not just for Anna and her family but all the girls.
Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this book!
The Pact begins with a powerful prologue depicting Nazis finding a Jewish family hiding in an attic in the days leading up to World War II. The novel continues with flashbacks and is the story of 3 friends in Vienna who make a blood pact when they are 8 years old to always remain friends and continues through their teenage years. There is a fourth girl who insinuates herself into the group with various threats. For the most part, the girls are best friends despite their differences — one is Jewish with wealthy parents, two are extremely poor and one is a staunch Nazi supporter.
The theme of anti semitism is rampant throughout the novel and one can see how young minds have been indoctrinated by parents and educators. Readers become engrossed in finding out what happens to the girls — especially when they travel to Berlin — and what leads up to the denouement in the attic. This is an exciting and compelling tale and I thank NetGalley, the publisher and, of course, Roberta Kagan for the opportunity to read and review this novel prior to publication.
Great book! Action packed tale of four girls growing into womanhood during the 1930s in Vienna and Berlin. Anna is from a wealthy Jewish family. Elica,, Bernie and Dagna are all from working class families and struugle to get by. They make a blood pact to always have each others' backs no matter what. As war looms, the pact is tested and tested.
This is part 1, and I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
Get ready to be transported back in time to Austria right before World War II breaks out! We meet four young girls who take a Blood Sister oath. Anna, the only Jewish girl in the group, often faces prejudice even from within their friendship group. The girls have to navigate their relationships with each other and with their families. The story ended with a cliffhanger and I can’t wait to read the next book.
I was drawn in by the realistic, complex characters. Roberta Kagan did an amazing job of researching the time period. There were a few times that I was yelling at Anna’s dad to sell his factory and leave Austria. I devoured this book in two days. Many thanks to the author, The Book Whisperer and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.
First of all, I think the cover of the book is amazing!
This was a great read that goes very quickly! The writing is not complex, so it is a 1-2 sitting read.
The story follows four girls ( “blood sisters”) from the 1930’s in Austria. Anna is from a wealthy Jewish family,which sets her apart from the other three who are from families facing financial struggles and family troubles.
As young girls, they make a pact in blood to always be there for one another. They go from 8 years old to teens very quickly in the story. The Nazis take over Austria during World War 2 and the girls face tensions of the war and within their friendships.
Anna's kind and tender heart and the acts of kindness she shows as a young child should be life lessons we all need in this world right now, so this work of Historical Fiction actually has alot of truth to it.
I found the character Dagna to be so annoying - the proof of a gifted and talented author who brought her to life so perfectly!
Looking forward to the next book in the series.
A good read about friendship with others of different cultures during troubled times.
Good historical fiction.
Also for teens as well as older adults.
This beautiful story begins with three girls from very different lives. Told over a period of a few years she shows us the difficulties of being Jewish, or poor in 1930s Germany. I love the way the author took the time to build up the lives of the girls early life leading to the challenges of their late teens/early adult lives. The flow in which the author wrote was enough to reel and keep me in. This is my first Roberta Kagan book and I can’t wait to read more by her.
Three young girls in Germany form a promise, a solemn vow, to always help and support each other. When WWII starts, this is a difficult thing to do especially since one of the girls is Jewish and the others are not. The young women are from different socioeconomic levels and follow different paths in life. How they relate to each other and conduct their lives makes a compelling story that is hard to stop reading.
The characters are three-dimensional and seem realistic, as does the setting and plot. This is one of Roberta Kagan’s best, a great read.
Roberta has done it again. I don't want to give away spoilers, but my mouth was wide open at the end. Totally unexpected. Thank you, Roberta!
I received this book as an ARC and this is my review. Wow! Talk about riveting- this story is bittersweet and heartbreaking and so amazing! All the characters are flawed and so true to life in this historical fiction with twists everywhere! This is a total slant on the years leading up to WWII. I recommend this story to readers who enjoy historical fiction.
Thank you Roberta Kagan for a great read about love, friendship, loyalty and betrayal centered during the rise of Hitler. I was totally immersed in #thepact from the very beginning to the delightfully unexpected end! Brava!! I wish to thank #netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read and review this memorable story. All opinions are my own.
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