Title: But Not Forsaken
Author: Helen Good Brenneman
Major Themes: Christmas, Mennonites, Refugees
Synopsis: A Russian Mennonite refugee family finds themselves separated again as they flee towards freedom after World War II.
I remember reading But Not Forsaken when I was in the 7th grade. I had to study it for my Language Arts course. That was an assignment I thoroughly enjoyed—this is a good book! I just finished reading it to my family, and they couldn’t wait to reach the climax of the book. They knew what would happen, just not how it would come about.
Hans and Maria were Russian Mennonite refugees, living in a room in the East Zone of Germany shortly after World War II ended. Of German descent, they had fled with the German army as it retreated from the disastrous invasion of Russia, and then found themselves living in fear in the Russian zone after the war ended. To make matters worse, the baby of the family was terribly sick, so Hans ended up taking her to the hospital. While he was gone, Maria and the other two children had to flee their home during the night because Russian soldiers came to take away a neighbor and they were afraid they, themselves, would be captured and sent to Siberia. When Hans returned to find his family gone, he feared the worst.
Maria and her two children set off on a grueling trek towards the West, to the free part of Germany. Would they reach freedom before her health completely broke down, or would Russian soldiers find them and send them to Siberia to the labor camps?
Though fiction, this story is very real. This is the type of challenges faced by thousands of refugees in Europe after World War II. Your faith will be challenged and strengthened as you follow Hans and Maria and their children on their varying paths.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults