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The Far Side of the Sky (Adler Family #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  988 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
November 9, 1938—Kristallnacht—the Nazis unleash a night of terror for Jews all across Germany. Meanwhile, the Japanese Imperial Army rampages through China and tightens its stranglehold on Shanghai, a city that becomes the last haven for thousands of desperate European Jews.

Dr. Franz Adler, a renowned surgeon, is swept up in the wave of anti-Semitic violence and flees to
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Forge Books (first published September 20th 2011)
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A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp SendkerHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordThe Far Side of the Sky by Daniel KallaThe Concubine's Daughter by Pai Kit FaiBest of Friends by Cathy Kelly
Paper Parasols
3rd out of 27 books — 4 voters
Mary Poppins by P.L. TraversThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordSoulless by Gail CarrigerThe Weather Girl by Amy Vastine
78th out of 164 books — 131 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,839)
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Doriana Bisegna
After having read countless books of fiction about the Holocaust, this is by far the weakest! While I enjoyed reading about a different place (Shanghai) and how many Jews from Europe ended up there, the story was so sanitized and somehow Harlequinesque...if I may be so bold as to say that!! Every character was too perfect too wonderful, too loving or comically evil and so predictable. Every problem had a solution, everytime someone was taken in for questioning they miraculously were let go...and ...more
Of all the books I've read so far this year, this one is among the best. With real, compelling characters and the city of Shanghai itself as center stage, I fairly raced through the last hundred pages.

The story begins in Vienna in the immediate aftermath of Kristallnacht in November 1938. Widespread attacks on Jewish synagogues and property throughout the Reich have made the situation for German and Austrian Jews --- already tenuous --- even more desperate. A widowed Viennese doctor and former H
Linda Books
Feb 20, 2013 Linda Books rated it it was ok
Now this is a subject matter I not only know well but am writing about in my own forthcoming new novel.

Unfortunately, this book is very superficial and predictable. The author is a physician, and it's obvious that HE knows medicine very well, given the detailed medical procedures and jargon in the book. No surprises in the plot. Maybe I do know the history too well, but these characters are so stereotypical that I could see everything coming way ahead. Also, the story stops at a happy ending po
Dec 04, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing
This historical novel is based on a little known part of the history of WWII, the emigration of twenty thousand German Jews to Shanghai, China being the only country who had not closed their borders to refugees trying to escape Germany. Shanghai at the time was militarily divided between the Japanese and the Western powers and had virtually no passport control. After 1938, every country including the USA and Great Britain had shut their doors to Jews desperate to escape the the genocide started ...more
Jul 24, 2012 Becky rated it liked it
The Far Side of the Sky is about the Jewish refugee community in Shanghai. Readers get glimpses of refugee life in 1938-9, 1940, 1941, 1942. (For example, the narrative might cover one or two months in a given year, and then jump to the next year.)

Franz Adler is able to flee Vienna, Austria, after Kristallnacht with his young daughter, Hannah, and his sister-in-law, Esther. Also accompanying them is an artist Ernst Muhler who fears persecution as well. (He joins them at the very last minute whe
Sep 04, 2013 Suze rated it really liked it
I really had no idea that there was such a large contingent of German and Austrian Jewish people in Shanghai during WWII. No other country would accept them as they tried to escape being slaughtered in Nazi Germany. They were forced to make dangerous, long sea voyages to Shanghai.....those that were lucky enough to have the money and the right papers.

This book follows a family who, after Kristallnacht, gathered what they could and ran as fast as they could away from the horrors. They managed to
Lesley Strom
Mar 11, 2014 Lesley Strom rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-reads
Wow! It's been awhile since I've read a book that I couldn't stop thinking about when I wasn't able to read it. I practically devoured this book...although the issues in this book regarding WWII are sad and unjust I feel I've learned a lot about the history of Shanghai during that time. I don't want to ruin it for other book club readers so I will just say that the story is bittersweet.
This is the first book I've read of Daniel Kalla's but definitely not the last.
Great pick for Book Club!
Nov 07, 2013 Scooter rated it did not like it
I got through this book but did not enjoy it. Character development - none. You did not make a connection to any of the chararcters. It seemed like they came on the scene to render dialogue pertaining to historical facts.
This book did enlighten me to the little known fact of Jews escaping to Shanghai during the bleakest time in human history.
Nov 09, 2015 Gayle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book for the story, the time period and the history. I liked & related to the people. That said, the atmosphere did seem somewhat shallow for the subject matter. Also, he did not fill out the rest of the refugee or Chinese communities in such a way that you felt really involved.
It would have been shorter & greatly improved with better editing. One very odd spot, a romantic flashback near the beginning of chapter 30, reads - "...she could taste the baking soda in his tooth
Jun 07, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it
After Kristallnacht, Franz Adler, a secular Austrian Jew, is desperate to save the remaining members of his family–his daughter Hannah and sister-in-law Esther. The only place they’re able to find letting in refugees is the relatively border-lax Shanghai.

Meanwhile, Mah Soon Yi, aka Sunny, the daughter of a Chinese doctor and American missionary, is trying to deal with the partial Japanese occupation of her home city of Shanghai while working as a nurse in one of the large hospitals and volunteer
Sep 09, 2012 Laurel rated it really liked it
This page turner historical novel is based on a little known part of the history of WWII, the emigration of twenty thousand German Jews to Shanghai, the only place that would take them. Shanghai at the time was militarily divided between the Japanese and the Western powers and had virtually no passport control. After 1938, every country including the USA and Great Britain had shut their doors to Jews desperate to escape the the genocide started by the Nazis.

This love story between an Austrian Je
Dawn Beam
Feb 03, 2016 Dawn Beam rated it liked it
I wish there was more insight and intensity to the characters. I liked all the characters, a lot, but I wish I was offered a more in depth understanding of their thoughts and feelings. And because of this, even though the characters do go thru many changes, I don't feel like any of those outside events truly changed any of the characters. Even the 2 main characters who should have been so in love didn't even have a very intense love affair.

They story was really slow in some places, no "holy shit
3.5 stars, really. The beginning was really good, but it unravelled a bit from there. Not much, it's still worth the read, but I can't say I loved it.
I think the best part was reading about Shanghai during WWII. I really need to learn more Chinese and Japanese history. Everything about this book seems credibly sourced, though I'm probably not the person to ask.
Oct 09, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing
The Far Side Of The Sky was a fascinating look at a part of history that I never knew before reading it.
The terror of Kristallnacht forces Austrian Jew Dr Adler to search for a way out of Nazi Germany for his family and himself.With his brother murdered by the SS and his father to ill to travel, this story follows Adler and his family's journey to find a place to belong.
This book moved me in ways that I never imagined it would. It really is a story that needed to be told. Well done Mr. Kalla!
I r
In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the night when the Nazis swept through Germany and Austria and killed countless Jewish citizens, Franz Adler realizes he has to try to escape his homeland with what remains of his family if they are to have any chance of surviving Hitler’s violence. He manages to secure passage to Shanghai for himself, his young daughter and his sister-in-law, and they soon find themselves struggling to live in a city that has become home to people of all nationalities, includi ...more
May 13, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
Another World War II novel, but this time it takes place in Shanghai where a lot of German/Austrian Jews went because no other countries would take them. This story follows an Austrian surgeon and a few years of his life in Shanghai. The Japanese occupy the city and are supporting the Nazi regime, so the Jews are constantly worried about their safety. This book is a quick easy read, not particularly well-written, but it is interesting.
Feb 13, 2016 Kristin rated it it was amazing
By coincidence, I began to read this book at the same time as I was reading one of Kalla's other books, 'Cold Plague', but it is not a continuation in that series. Instead, it is the first in a new series, which focuses on WWII-era Shanghai. Dr. Franz Adler is a Jewish surgeon in Austria when his lawyer brother, Kurt, loses his life on Kristalnacht. Already a widower himself, Adler is desperate to protect his remaining family members, particularly Esther, Kurt's wife, and Hannah, his young daugh ...more
Ken Klein
Feb 28, 2015 Ken Klein rated it really liked it
This is the first of the author's "Shanghai Series," which so far includes two books about the same set of characters. This volume begins with KrIstallnacht in Vienna and follows a family into their Shanghai refuge. The central theme, of course, is the political plight of the Jews, first in Europe and then especially in Shanghai. Much of it is meant to establish the main actors, to be carried through a longer period than these first four years. I appreciated that not all the Jews in the story we ...more
Antonio Azar
May 11, 2014 Antonio Azar rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much, for the historical setting and the incredibly intense story.

Shanghai 1939 is a brutal, tumultuous, and lethal international city, the setting for this complicated drama of survival, love and loss.

I wasnt aware that Shanghai became home to over 20,000 jews before WWII, mainly German, who had nowhere left to go. Once there,without money, passports, and little support, they had to face tremendous issues,not least,the Japanese army, cruel and savage to a fault, who con
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Moving and with a unique perspective on the multitude of horrors that was Nazi Germany and WWII, this is a thoroughly solid, heartfelt novel.

Review to come.
Jan 25, 2016 Sheila rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2015 Lana rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It illuminates a part of history that is often skipped over (or at least that I was only vaguely aware of). The author provides about 2 page note at the end to help explain what is true history (most of the book) and what is not.

There are several brutal scenes that are hard to read. But all in all it's an easy read.

At the start of the book the characters are compelling and interesting. But later in the book the main characters become sickly sweet. However there are enough in
Samantha White
Oct 03, 2012 Samantha White rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! I hope there is a sequel.
This book was a very pleasant surprise. I loved the careful attention to detail the author had, the great research, and the engrossing story. It’s a very promising start to this trilogy.

The story of the Shanghai ghetto is not a commonly explored area of historical fiction. The author explored its early years and formation through the story of Franz Adler and his family as they escaped Nazi controlled Austria and a local Euroasian (half Chinese-half American) woman caught in the fires of war. The
Lindsay Wilson
Mar 03, 2015 Lindsay Wilson rated it really liked it
This is a very compelling book, covering a part of history I knew almost nothing about. While I think we've all read at least one historical novel dealing with the horrors experienced by Europe's Jewish population during World War II, I had never read anything or even really learned anything about the mass exodus to Shanghai. The unique setting and relatively novel historical standpoint made this a very interesting book.

Setting aside, this 4 star review may be a little generous, given that I of
Toni Osborne
Dec 11, 2012 Toni Osborne rated it it was amazing
Mr. Daniel Kalla is best known for his medical thrillers, having read and enjoyed every one of his previous novels I can honestly say this latest addition has to be one of his best and is definitely a page-turner.

“The Far Side of the Sky” is more a love story than a suspense novel, it recounts the period of war torn Shanghai as seen through the eyes of two main characters- Dr. Franz Adler, a secular Austrian Jew and Soon Yi Mah, a native Eurasian nurse. Their lives are caught up in a whirlwind
The Far Side Of The Sky is a captivating story that pulls readers into the lives of Franz Adler, Sunny Mah and a host of other vibrant, well-developed characters. Though the novel begins with the horrific events of Kristallnacht in Austria, most of the story takes place in the city of Shanghai where thousands of European Jews have fled seeking refuge from the Nazis' persecution. Despite the endless stream of bad news they receive from home and the war that is raging all around them (which, event ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Jun 27, 2012 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Originally posted here.

Yet again, I find myself seriously impressed with the breadth and variety of WWII historical fiction. I honestly feel like whenever I read a WWII novel, whether I like it or not, I learn something new and fascinating. The Far Side of the Sky is no exception. I never previously knew that thousands of German and Austrian Jews escaped to Shanghai.

The story of these refugees has a double impact, since it allows Kalla to draw connections between the German's treatment of conque
Aug 05, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing
Another fabulous piece of historical fiction. The story of a Jewish family who flees Germany following Kristallnacht seeking refuge in Shanghai. Although they are not actively persecuted, they must face the challenges and restrictions of life in China where the Japanese have recently assumed power.
Just as they begin to acclimate themselves to life in a very different culture far from their home Japan enters the war and aligns with Germany. Unfortunately for them and the thousands of other Jewish
Danica Page (One Page at a Time)
This is a condensed version of my review. The extended version can be found here.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimers: I received an e-galley of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

My Overall Thoughts/Impressions: First off, I consider myself something of a history buff and so I love it when I read a novel that causes me look at something in a new light. Sarah's Key did that for me and so did this novel.

This novel is not your average WWII novel.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Jul 27, 2015 01:01PM  
Write Reads Podcast: Episode 13! Historical fiction! 1 5 Feb 10, 2014 10:20AM  
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  • Threaten to Undo Us
  • The World More Full of Weeping
  • Tell It to the Trees
  • The Crooked Maid
  • The Headmaster's Wager
  • Forgive Me If I've Told You This Before
  • The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit
  • Night of Flames
  • The Translation of Love
  • The Emperor of Paris
  • Free as a Bird
  • Miss Fuller
  • Omamori
Born, raised, and still residing in Vancouver, Kalla spends his days (and sometimes nights) working as an ER Physician in an urban teaching hospital.

The idea for his first medical thriller, PANDEMIC, sprang from his clinical experience in facing the SARS crisis of 2003. He has written five science thrillers and or medical mysteries, delving into themes and topics as diverse as superbugs, drug addi
More about Daniel Kalla...

Other Books in the Series

Adler Family (3 books)
  • Rising Sun, Falling Shadow
  • Nightfall Over Shanghai

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“Simon shook his head. ‘The Nazis in Germany…the Japanese here in Shanghai…Treating people as less than human because of the shape of their faces or the sound of their names. Sometimes it feels like the whole damn world is unraveling.” 1 likes
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