Book Review: A Girl Called Renee by Ruth Uzrad

Title: A Girl Called Renee
Author: Ruth Uzrad
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Terrified after her father’s arrest by the Nazis, Ruth flees to Belgium.

This is the unbelievable autobiographical story of Ruth Uzrad, a Jewish teenager whose life was turned upside down by the Nazi regime. After her father was arrested one night from their Berlin apartment by the Gestapo, Ruth’s mother sends 13 year-old Ruth and her two younger sisters out on their escape route across Europe by train to the safety of Belgium.

But then the Nazis also reach Belgium, driving Ruth into the French Jewish underground…

Later, when the Nazis conquer Belgium, Ruth and one of her sisters escape to France, leaving the youngest sister behind to be taken in by a Belgian foster family. Later, Ruth joins the Jewish underground movement in France and takes on a false identity and a new name, Renee. As an underground fighter, she participates in special operations aimed at rescuing Jews in danger. When the German police set out to arrest her, she manages to cross the border into Spain and eventually makes her way to Israel, where she makes her home and spends the rest of her life.

I was so excited to start reading A Girl Called Renee because part of the book takes place in Belgium, the country where I live. The story certainly didn’t dissapoint, and I was really impressed by Ruth, and how strong she stayed in the face of so much evil.

So, first of all, this is an autobiographical book, meaning that the events happening in the book, actually happened. Although while you’re reading it, it’s hard to believe so much horror can actually be true, but we all know how horrible and devastating world war II was for so many people. Anyway, Ruth Uzrad was a Jewish teenager back then, and her father got arrested in Berlin by the Gestapo. Scared of what would happen to their family, Ruth’s mother sent 13-year-old Ruth and two young sisters away from Germany, and to the safety of Belgium.

Yet, the unthinkable happens, and the Nazis conquer Belgium. Ruth and one of her sisters manage to escape to France, where Ruth joins an underground movement and takes on a false identity and name – Renee. As an underground fighter, she participates in several operations to save endangered Jews. When the Gestapo are on her tracks, she flees to Spain and eventually to Israel.

This story is heartbreaking, often brought me to tears, but it’s also very inspiring. It shows strength and courage, it shows how people can survive the unimaginable, and even try to help others when the world seems to have sunken into chaos and despair. It shows hope, that lives on when everything else has left already. It shows humanity’s triumph over evil. If I read Ruth’s biography correctly, she has since passed away, and I’m very sorry to hear that, and give my condolences to her family. Reading this book, Ruth was truly an amazing person, the kind of person who makes this world a better place.


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