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Among the Branded

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  151 ratings  ·  28 reviews

What if a 70-year-old letter from World War II changed the course of your life?

While attending Valor of the ’40s, art director Stephanie Britain stumbles upon a flea market selling letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for a client’s website at her branding and design firm. She’s at first drawn by the lost art of penmanship, but dis

Paperback, 262 pages
Published May 2nd 2017 by Linda Smolkin
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Linda Hi, Sharon! Thanks for asking such a great question! Author here :-). My father was a Holocaust survivor. I was inspired by his story, and even though…moreHi, Sharon! Thanks for asking such a great question! Author here :-). My father was a Holocaust survivor. I was inspired by his story, and even though my father and my character Izzy are very different, there's one thing they have in common: they both have a great sense of humor. It always amazed me that my father could be so positive after what he'd been through in his earlier life. When I started Among the Branded, I wanted to write about a character who had to take a stand for something she believed in--and I wanted it to come about from an evolving (and unlikely) friendship. Plus, I do believe in chance encounters and how they can change a person's life, which became a focal point for me while writing several of the characters, but mainly Stephanie and Izzy. Thanks again for asking your question. (less)

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Mar 28, 2017 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Goodreads is asking that I review/rate this book. But since I wrote it, that would seem slightly awkward:-). So instead, I'll just say that I read it about a hundred times! ...more
Lynda Dickson
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ages 16+
Shelves: adult
Steph and Greg's oldest son Jeremy is off to College, and their youngest son Jack gets to pick the destination of their family getaway. He selects Valor of the 40s, a World War Two re-enactment event. There, Steph buys some old war-time love letters at a market stall. An extraordinary coincidence compels her to find out more about the person who wrote the letter. This leads to her meeting Izzy, who has a profound effect on her life and the lives of those around her.

More than just the story of a
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Full review at
Among the Branded is a feel good novel with a conscience.

Stephanie is an art director who decides to attend a "Valor of the 40's" event with her youngest son and husband after dropping her oldest son off at college. While there she buys a bundle of old love letters, thinking they'll help inspire her with the design of a new project for a client. One of the letters isn't like the others. It isn't a love letter at all, but a pleading letter fo
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I requested this book through NetGalley as the blurb of the book appeared to be tailor-made to my reading preferences. I enjoy reading stories of all genres revolving around WWII and also love books that have some parts of the story narrated through letters. Although most WWII novels are set in Germany or details the activities in Germany, this was the first time I was exposed to the war atrocities in France, specifically Camp Gurs. This book also introduced me to Hidden Children, who were Jewis ...more
mindful.librarian ☀️
An intriguing look at WWII and hidden children told from the POV of a Holocaust survivor through conversations with a modern-day friend. I really enjoyed the storylines, especially that of the company and the conflict there, and at times couldn't put the book down because I wanted to find out what happened.

The author sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and the feedback I gave her is that a lot of the dialogue seemed stilted, as did the transitions between scenes/times.
Jill Yager
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A captivating and beautifully written work of literature for first-time novelist Linda Smolkin. The story focuses on an unexpected bond that develops between Stephanie, a successful advertising professional, wife and mother and Izzy, a Holocaust survivor. As the plot unfolds, you are taken on a journey, laced with the horrific realities of the Holocaust, as well as being faced with a difficult moral dilemma. I found myself immediately drawn into the authenticity of the characters and the heartwa ...more
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a n interesting story, which delves into many different story-lines. One of the main people in the book is Stephanie, a forty something advertising executive, who is a wife and mother of two boys, one about to take off for college.
When they take their eldest son to college, they ask the younger one where he would like to go, as a special treat for him, and he decides he would like to go to the “Valor of the 40's” a fair which reenacts the feel of WWII, where everyone dressed their part
S.D. Mayes
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this debut novel by Linda Smolkin. It's a story about a Holocaust survivor called Izzy and the friendship that develops with Stephanie, an advertising exec. The two women couldn't be more different and yet they form a strong bond. The author builds a multi-layered story in her work about all the things that affect us deeply: family, loss, love, and friendship. I love the way the plot began with professional woman Stephanie buying old wartime love letters at a flea market to use as ...more
Charlene Mattson
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Ok, so I read mostly fantasy, urban fantasy, and some sci-fi, but I also have a degree in history so sometimes I read, well history.

I rarely read contemporary genre. However, if it’s got history in it, I can be persuaded. I have to admit, the first sentence in the blurb persuaded me. A 70 year old letter from World War II? Yep. Plus, Stephanie, while not a freelance writer, has the kind of career that I have on the side – working for clients whom you may not always agree with and then what do yo
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stephanie and Greg Britain, with their two children Jeremy and Jack are off to Valour of the 40's a WWII re-enactment.  This trip was Jack's choice, Jeremy is soon to go off to college.  While there Stephanie comes across a bundle of letters on a second-hand stall. One letter catches her eye and the story begins.

Oh my goodness what a beautiful and heartwarming story.  A chaotic and frantic beginning with the hectic lifestyle of this family. It shows how this active and close-knit family go about
Debora Warner
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth exploring

This first novel is gripping. Izzy is so real and vibrant an individual, it seems as if we had actually met. Any minor errors are quickly forgiven and forgotten as the reader is enveloped and embraced by the sheer life and realness of this story. Very authentic and worth the trip. Please keep writing!
Sarah Carter
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
“The letter could sit on a shelf, along with Isadore’s number, collecting dust, becoming less meaningful to me as the months and years went by … But my belief in fate was strong, one that I couldn’t shrug off with apprehension.”

In Among the Branded, little does Stephanie know that by buying a few old love letters from WWII, her life would change forever. One of the letters contained not a love letter, but a letter from a woman pleading for her life and the lives of her children to be saved from
Laura Henderson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am very much in love with this book! This book was well written and flowed flawlessly. I felt that each character made you "feel" something and each one had their own unique personality. This book was great to read, curled up with a good cup of hot tea. I read it in one sitting and was not bored, nor did i find myself forcing me to hurriedly read any passage. I quite liked the plot to this book as it was unique and i haven't read any other books like it. The author Linda is very unique in her ...more
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable read

Especially well written for a debut novel. The characters are easy to relate to and the story line is intriguing.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book. An easy read that kept me interested in the characters and was not predictable.
Awesome Indies Book Awards
Awesome Indies Book Awards is pleased to include AMONG THE BRANDED by LINDA SMOLKIN in the library of Awesome Indies' Badge of Approval recipients at

Original Awesome Indies' Assessment (5 stars):

Among the Branded by Linda Smolkin is a contemporary fiction that reminds us that we might be done with the past, but the past isn’t done with us. The main character, Stephanie, attends a World War II event (Valor of the ’40s) with her family and purchases a bundle of authen
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4 and 1 / 2 stars

This is a remarkable book.

Stephanie a forty-something advertising executive and mother of two goes to a 1940’s reenactment fair with her son and husband. On a whim she purchases some old love letters from the World War II. Amongst them she finds a letter from a mother pleading for assistance for her family. It was written from a concentration camp in France. She has a young son called Isadore who is just four years old.

She investigates and eventually meets up with Isadore, call
Debbie Shoulders
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a quiet, little story the embeds a big, complex issue. In trying to appease her younger son, Stephanie finds herself at a WWII reenactment event. During the course of things, she finds a letter written from a concentration camp in France. After doing some research the letter leads her to Izzy, a child of the camps who ended up in the United States. Through Izzy, Stephanie learns more of history as well as what it takes to live a good life. And through that relationship, she also question ...more
Edward Lee

There's nothing particularly wrong with this book. However, it seemed shallow and the characters were 2 dimensional - they did nothing to leap off the page. It read more like a novel geared towards middle schoolers than adults.
Debi Hawkes
Aug 11, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It was a "story", nothing more. Would not recommend. I love WWII themed books, but this book just didn't cut it. ...more
Colleen K
May 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
A Hallmark movie waiting to be signed. Characters are one-dimensional and superficial. I actually hated this book.
Cheryl M-M
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Among the Branded is a story about family and making emotional connections even when there are no blood ties. When Stephanie buys a vintage love letter at a re-enactment festival called Valor of the 40’s, she finds herself drawn to discover the people mentioned in the letter. The letter is written by a Jewish woman trying to save her family, who are already embarked on their path straight to a certain death, however their then five year old son Isadore was rescued from the hands of the Nazi’s. S ...more
Karen Cole
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The events in Among the Branded are prompted by a letter written in 1941 but this is not a historical novel, it's a contemporary family drama and is so evocatively written that I willingly lost a few hours to this lovely book.
The letter in question was penned by a Holocaust victim, Hanna. Stephanie Britain finds it among a collection of love letters at a reeanactment event and is inspired to search for Hanna's young son, Isadore who was only four years old in 1941.
What follows is a touching stor
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I will admit though that when I started reading I thought I might have made a bit of a mistake with this one. Everything’s a bit chaotic – a children’s party, Stephanie dressed in a furry dog suit, a Russian friend called Svetlana, and all a bit American for my tastes. But I mention that only in case others might feel the same – when I finally set this book aside with a smile and a satisfied sigh, having read it cover to cover in a single wonderful sitting, no-one was more surprised than I was.

Denise Lucas
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Among the Branded by Linda Smolkin is a contemporary novel with a historical twist. Though this novel has a holocaust element it is not a heavy read at all. The subject has been dealt with in such a subtle way that you are not left with the heavy feeling which we normally feel after reading the novels of that period. No mistake that it has elements of heart breaking emotions but there is also joy, laughter, friendships, courage and the most important thing family. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review to follow on 8th March as part of blog tour
Read it and other reviews on my blog
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read.

Its an amazing, funny, sad, nostalgic ride through history. A must read for fans of Fried Green Tomatoes and Forrest Gump. Definitely a Kleenex worthy book.
rated it liked it
Sep 10, 2018
Sharon Bush
rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2018
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Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an advertising agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. She’s the author of Among the Branded (May 2017) and The Secret We Lost (September 2018) and is c ...more

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