Sunday, October 31, 2010

From Dust and Ashes, by Tricia Goyer (Moody)

In May, 1945, advance elements of the 11th Armored Divsion rolled into St. Georgen, Austria. What awaited them there would be gouged into the soldiers' memories for the rest of their lives: the Gusen concentration camp.

Sergeant Peter Scott is among the first to arrive at the front gates. The skeletal remnants of men and women cling to the fence and clutter the main entrance to glimpse their liberators and beg for even a morsel to eat. He encounters the gaunt figure of Michaela, a Polish Christian, standing erect among the dead and dying, intent on thanking the saviors of the camp with her final vestige of dignity. He also encounters Helene, the recalcitrant wife of a former SS guard bringing soup and whatever comfort she can to the emaciated prisoners. The lives of the three are inextricably bound together from this point forward.

Sgt. Scott has fought the European war from the Normandy beaches to the Rhine River, his once-strong faith now smothered under too much carnage and destruction. Michaela fights her own war of physical and emotional restoration from years of internment, her faith still vibrant, but confusing in where it's leading her. Helene must deal with her own conscience at too many years of silence, if not acceptance, over the atrocities her husband has committed. Each leans on and learns from the others in winning their own personal battles.

From Dust to Ashes is a tender story of love, faith and redemption overlying a background of indescribable horror and bruality. It may not be the most recent work by Ms. Goyer (released in 2003), but it has to be one of the best. The book is not for the faint of heart, but neither is it overly graphic in its depiction of reality. Meticuloulsy researched and skillfully presented, From Dust to Ashes is an entrancing read. Highly recommended.

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