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My Enemy's Cradle

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  5,475 Ratings  ·  730 Reviews

Cyrla's neighbors have begun to whisper. Her cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the rigorous exams for admission to the Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying German babies. But Anneke's soldier has disappeared, and Lebensborn babies are only ever released to their father's custody-- or taken away.

A note is left under the mat. Someone knows that Cyrla, sen

Hardcover, 365 pages
Published January 14th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2008)
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Pj WAR is bad content!!!!! Of course there is bad content. Young girls getting pregnant without marriage to further the craziness of the Nazi. jews beong…moreWAR is bad content!!!!! Of course there is bad content. Young girls getting pregnant without marriage to further the craziness of the Nazi. jews beong killed and sent to camps. But it's important to read andwith this knowledge hopefully prevent the same craziness from ever happening again.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 04, 2009 Christina rated it it was amazing
I’m quite sure that I say this entirely too much, but I could not put My Enemy’s Cradle down. I was completely riveted, enthralled with the characters, and sucked into a part of Nazi Germany I knew nothing about. It’s a strong book, all the way through. Beginning to end.

My Enemy’s Cradle is love story filled with tragedy, heartbreak, and devastation. Which sounds incredibly contradictory, but it contains so much hope and love that the contrasting feelings pull the reader in one hundred direction
Feb 16, 2008 Leanna rated it liked it
I picked up Sara Young’s My Enemy’s Cradle after reading a review in USA Today a few weeks ago. The book centers around the German Lebensborn, and I was intrigued.

Despite inundating myself with “Third Reich” literature over the last several years, I’d never before heard of the Lebensborn, homes for women impregnated (both willingly and unwillingly) by German soldiers.

Fair-haired Cyrla, the book’s protagonist, has a Dutch mother and a Polish-Jewish father. For five years, she lives with her mothe
Jul 18, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book because I am a fan of historical fiction, particularly that dealing with Jews and WWII. Unfortunately, I found the plot predictable, the characters flat, and the tone of the book to be too light for such a serious issue as a half Jewish woman living as a fraud in a Lebensborn (home for women pregnant with children of Nazi fathering to add to the "Master Race.") Although I do not know enough about Lebensborn, I feel as though the author paints too glossy of a pic ...more
Mar 21, 2008 Sue rated it it was ok
This was an interesting book about a part of WWII that I knew little about. The story highlights the Lebensborn, a birthing center for Aryan children. The story is about Cyrla, a half-Jewish young woman who is finding that life in the home of a Dutch relative is getting increasingly more difficult as the Nazi's impose stricter and stricter laws on anyone Jewish. Cyrla is best friends with her beautiful blond cousin, Annika . Not only are they best friends but they look quite alike. Without givin ...more
Jun 15, 2010 Diana rated it did not like it
This novel has the most irritating protagonist I’ve ever encountered in fiction. Completely self-absorbed, oblivious to what’s happening around her in Nazi-occupied Holland, utterly unconcerned with anyone’s feelings but her own…God, what a useless wench. The only reason I kept on reading was that it concerned the mysterious Lebensborn program during World War II. Little is known about it, and that little is still not talked about very much. It concerns illicit sex and unmarried motherhood, both ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Leah rated it it was ok
Recommended to Leah by: Susan Kautz
The woman whose kids I babysit lent me this book. Apparently she got it as a gift and couldn't put it down. This one is definitely a page turner. It's kind of like historical chick-lit.

I liked that it dealt with an aspect of Nazi Germany that isn't talked about very often, which is the Lebensborn project. This project was a breeding program designed to propagate the Aryan race. Girls who passed rigorous tests to determine their heritage and who were carrying German babies were allowed to give b
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anytime I can read about something new in well-written historical fiction, I'm all for it! The author of this adult novel taught me something and had me googling before I had even finished the book. It's a tale of the Lebensborn, a home for girls who were breeding good German stock to carry on the work of the Fuhrer. Wow.[return][return]Cyrla is 1/2 Jewish and her father sends her to the Netherlands before Hitler starts raising too much heck. But the war catches up with her in the Netherlands. N ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Kolleen rated it it was amazing
I am one of those people that love books on the Holocost, true or not. (Call me morbid if you have to). This was a novel, but focused on Lebensborns, which are an aspect of the Holocost that has never been focused on before, and something that I didn't even realized existed. The characters in this book were so well-defined that I felt like I knew them and could understand all of their thoughts and feelings. I was so touched by this book. I loved the characters, I loved the ending, and I really r ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
Feb 03, 2013 Judi/Judith Riddle rated it really liked it
Cyrla and Anneke are cousins who look enough alike to be twins. Cyrla, who is half Dutch, has been sent by her father to safely live with her mother's Dutch relations in Holland as Hitler's army occupies Poland. Being half Jewish from her father's side life is any thing but safe for Cyrla as the neighbors are afraid to associate with her when it is apparent that Holland is about to be occupied by Hitler's army. In the meantime, Anneke falls in love with a Karl, a German soldier. He shortly aband ...more
May 30, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book. I found it very interesting, a page turner, and I didn't want to put it down. My only complaint was the ending. All of a sudden the book ended very abruptly. It definitely could have gone on at least another chapter or two. It also could have had a sequel written but this book was originally published in 2008 so I don't see that being very likely. I thought about taking a star away because of the ending, but decided against it because the book gave me so many hours ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
This is an amazing story about a little known Nazi plan to create babies for the Third Reich. A great read!
Nhi Nguyễn
Viết về đề tài Thế chiến thứ II, nhưng tiểu thuyết không hề đi vào lối mòn của sự đàn áp, giết hại người Do Thái như những tác phẩm viết về đề tài này trước đây. Dĩ nhiên là nó vẫn được xây dựng trên cái nền muôn thuở là sự khốn đốn của người Do Thái trước sự nhẫn tâm của phát xít Đức, thế nhưng, "Trong vòng nôi kẻ thù" lại đề cập đến một vấn đề khác, riêng tư hơn, ít được nhắc đến hơn: cuộc sống và số phận của những người phụ nữ mang thai con của lính Đức ở nhà hộ sinh Lebensborn. Đây là những ...more
Oct 28, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-group, adoption
A very memorable story of young ladies and how they suffered during WWII. They weren't put in concentration camps, but they were victims of cruelty just the same. The author uses the backdrop of Hitler's maternity homes as she paints the story of one girl's search for safety during the war.

I enjoyed this book because it's a very interesting plot line that keeps you constantly on your toes as you read it. And the author does a wonderful job developing the characters, peeling away layer after lay
Mar 29, 2014 Edel rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 04, 2009 Princess rated it it was amazing
This book is incredibly powerful. I tend to have a difficult time reading books set during the Holocaust. Both my husband and I have German heritage and it makes the atrocities so much more real to me knowing what I do about family history and conscription.

That being said, I couldn't put this book down. I was hooked from the start. The storyline is intriguing. The Lebensborn is a home for mothers pregnant with German babies. Cyrla's cousin, Anneke, is pregnant and has passed the admissions requ
Jan 12, 2014 ☕Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prior to reading this book I knew nothing of the Lebensborn -- Nazi-sponsored homes for German or "suitably Aryan" women carrying babies fathered by German men -- yet another atrocity of the Nazi regime. These babies were treated as a commodity -- more future soldiers or future mothers of soldiers -- and the women were encouraged to produce as many children with German soldiers as possible. Against this backdrop we are offered the story of Cyrla, a young woman of partial Jewish parentage who ent ...more
Aug 14, 2010 thewanderingjew rated it liked it
This is a very compelling book about World War II, told from an entirely different perspective. It is told not from the point of view of the war and the soldiers or the camps, but rather the innocent citizens caught up in the turmoil and terror.
The main character, Cyrla, is a mischling, which is what Germans called a person of mixed heritage, one not totally Aryan. She is young, barely 19, and often because of her pride she is careless and foolish. Her mistakes endanger others. She might even b
3.5 Stars

The story for My Enemy's Cradle was very intriguing. I've never read a novel that centered on the Lebensborn program until now. And to have Jewish girl hiding in that setting?!?! Definitely a unique story. Once Cyrla got into the center, I was on pins and needles working my way through the novel. I desperately wanted to know how, or even if, she survived the ordeal and what ever happened to her baby. The actual story was the strongest part of this novel. It sucks you in, all the way thr
Sep 19, 2015 Jill rated it liked it
An enjoyable read that pulled you in and kept you reading. The lightness of the book belies the heaviness of the reality that the story was set in, the horrific Nazi regime in Germany and neighbouring, occupied countries during WWII. In this case, Holland.

Cyrla, our protagonist, is young. 19 in years but possibly younger emotionally. She's an immature and naïve woman living in terrifying and dangerous times, and she's ill-equipped to both deal with the situations she finds herself in or to smart
Apr 11, 2011 Aviva rated it really liked it
My Enemy's Cradle chronicles the Nazi Lebensborn Project or, at least gives a fictional account of a girl who uses it for protection. Cyrla is half-Jewish and living with her Gentile relatives in Holland during the occupation. When her cousin (who could be her twin) turns up pregnant, she's referred to a facility for girls carrying German babies. Tragedy ensues and Anneke dies, leaving Cyrla with a decision. Things are getting seriously bad in Holland for Jews and it's becoming more and more dan ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Alisa rated it liked it
Shelves: readers-choice
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gail Amendt
Apr 11, 2012 Gail Amendt rated it liked it
This one is a really hard one to rate. It was quite gripping, and I read it in a couple of days as I had to keep going to find out what happened next. It was, however, somewhat disappointing from a historical fiction perspective. Judging by the author's note and acknowledgements at the end of the book, the author was trying to write a historical novel about the Lebensborns, maternity homes set up by the Nazis for suitably Aryan women pregnant with the children of Nazi officers. This could have m ...more
Melissa Bennett
Jun 19, 2010 Melissa Bennett rated it did not like it
I have read a lot of books on the Holocaust. So far I have enjoyed every one of them. Some more than others. This book is not on that list. I couldn't even finish it and I almost never leave a book unfinished! My complaint was the way it was written. I felt it was very "child-like". The main character, Cyrla, when I started reading this book seemed like she was around 12 years old. Turns out she is nineteen. Yet she had a very childish mind. To be a 19 year old whose mother had died and whose fa ...more
Dec 17, 2016 Kayleigh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
I just thought this was beautiful.
I am utterly in love with the way Sara Young wrote this. In terms of style, this was frequently poetic and delicate and just so lovely to read. I was honestly inspired by the descriptive writing in this book and I found it very easy to really see and feel what Cyrla saw and felt due to the eloquence and clarity with which she 'spoke'. I found myself reading certain paragraphs and actually having to stop for a minute to contemplate just how gorgeous what I had j
Nov 04, 2012 Hilary rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, this story of Cyrla and Anneke covers not only the choices they make but also how actions - particularly within war - are often layered with emotion, decisions, moral choices, and conflicting loyalties. Which is more important: to be half-Dutch or half-Jewish, to serve your country or to follow your dreams, to be a niece or a cousin, to be a friend or a lover, to be an advocate or a father, to be a mother or a wife? It's never clearcut, and although one character might perce ...more
Maggie Boyd
Nov 04, 2013 Maggie Boyd rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2013
This book has to contain some of the worst plotting I have ever seen. Cryla, a young woman (19) is living in Amsterdam with her mothers family. Her father, who is Jewish, sent her whenever the new regime (Nazis) arrived in Poland. Cryla has no understanding of what it means to be Jewish during this time period. Her uncle shows her all the newspaper announcements about the Jewish restrictions and she feels he is just being mean. Her Jewish boyfriend, who has endless privileges taken away from him ...more
Mar 13, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 12th-grade
This is a historical fiction about a young woman who is half Jewish and have German, and is trying to hide her Jew identity. After the death of her pregnant cousin she becomes pregnant and takes her place in the maternity home. In other words, Cyrla, the protagonist, takes on the identity of her cousin Anneka. Reason why she had to do that is because the maternity place is where German girls are so its her only way to hide safely and to survive. The setting of the book takes place during the Hol ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Sandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii-fiction
I love this book. I've been wanting to read it for more then a year now and it was so worth the wait. The period and place is something that has always interested me and there is so much to tell about Lebensborn. It was one of the lesser known things about WWII but none the less worth looking into and painful in its own way.

I wasn't sure about how I felt at first about Cyrla but she grew on me and I was rooting for her to keep her baby since the nazi's had taken enough already. I was fearing th
Mar 13, 2010 Kara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: advisory-09-10
An historical fiction taking place during the Holocaust. It is about a young woman named Cyrla who is half Jewish and half German who is living with her aunt's family, trying to hide her Jewish side in order to survive. Her cousin, Anneke, is one of the most important people in her life. Anneke is pregnant with a baby, whose father just left, and passes an exam for a maternity home for German babies. But before she could go, Anneke commits suicide. With the increase of restrictions on Jews, Cyrl ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Sandy rated it liked it
1941 in Holland; where Cyrla was sent to live with her Aunt and Uncle to escape the Nazi's In Poland. Cyrla is half Jewish on her fathers side and it had become too dangerous in Poland. Cyrla's cousin, Anneke is in love with a young Nazi officer: she becomes pregnant and tells her family that the solider is leaving and can't marry her. Her father signs her up for a Lebensorn, a maternity home for girls who are having baby's by the "right" kind of man(a good Nazi man).. Cyrla takes her place and ...more
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Sisterhood of the...: April 2015 Book of the Month - My Enemy's Cradle. By Sarah Young 40 20 Apr 18, 2015 08:48AM  
2017 Reading Chal...: My Enemy's Cradle 1 15 Mar 18, 2015 02:02PM  
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