Sunday, January 1, 2023

What I Would Tell You By Liz Tolsma

What I Would Tell You
by Liz Tolsma
Publisher: Barbour
ISBN: 978-1636094595

I was so thrilled to be asked to join the author's launch team. I had recently read another one of her books set in WWII and jumped at the chance to join her team. I received her book for review.


Determined to resist the invading Nazis, a Greek Jewish woman's greatest dream has become her worst nightmare, and now she faces an impossible choice whose consequences echo across the generations.

1941--The pounding of Nazi boots 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. 

2019--College student 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.

My Review:

I was incredibly intrigued by the idea of this story. I think most of us only think of countries that touch Germany in regards to WWII. With it being set in Greece and learning about Sephardic Jews blew my mind! I didn't realize, until this story, that Greece had been so affected by the war. I also learned about Sephardic Jews.

We get to know Tessa, in our current time who, through a DNA test, learns her genealogy isn't what her family thought it was. I liked her because she has tenacity to learn about her past and do something about it! Her familial relationships left a lot to be desired. I think I was as happy as she was for her to go to Greece.

We also meet Mathilda. She is smack dab in the occupation of her city, Salonika. She and her husband are trying to stay out of the way of the Germans while still trying to get their fellow Jews to fight back. You can feel, through their storyline, the push and pull of wanting to fight back while wanting to live. Their lives had me on an emotional roller coaster ride. 

Watching the connection between their timelines begin to come together was incredibly powerful. I felt like I was as invested in finding the answers as Tessa was. I wish the world knew more about Sephardic Jews. I'm glad a story like this exists now!

I'm a huge fan of time split stories and I enjoyed both timelines equally. I need more like this!

About the Author:

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.


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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.