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When We Were Brave

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,627 ratings  ·  225 reviews
April 2020 Pinnacle Book Award Winner

2020 Independent Press Award -Distinguished Favorite


2020 First Place Award, Historical Fiction for Reader's View Contest

2020 Book Excellence Award for Historical Fiction

2019 Distinguished Favorite for the New York City Big Book Award.

2019 Silver Medal Winner,
Kindle Edition, 413 pages
Published April 19th 2019 by Book Circle Press
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  • When We Were Brave by Karla  M. Jay
    When We Were Brave

    Release date: Apr 15, 2019
    International award winner set in the final years of WWII. "...endearing, suspenseful, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking experience. Readers will ...more

    Format: Kindle book

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    Availability: 100 copies available, 23 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Sep 28 - Oct 08, 2020

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 4.57  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,627 ratings  ·  225 reviews

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    Kate Baxter
    4.5 / 5.0 stars

    "A man's true wealth is the good he does in this world."

    Such powerful and moving stories of three distinct World War II characters. There's the SS Officer struggling with a very heavy conscience desiring to right what's so very wrong. Then there's a sweet young Jewish boy, artistically gifted and seeking glimmers of light through the deepening darkness. Lastly, there's the German-American struggling with prejudice, suspicion and persecution.

    I was moved by Ms. Jay's rich prose. Sh
    Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: kindle-books
    This book was a heartbreaking story of world war two,it took a while to get into the characters as three different stories that connect in the end.first There was Wilhelm falk an ss officer who hid his identity to go to America and he didn't believe what Hitler was doing and wanted to keep his family safe,and give information on what was happening in the camps.second story was Herbert Muller and his family a working family lived in America was accused of passing information to the germans as his ...more
    Nancy  Price
    Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

    This book contains three different storylines, each about a less familiar aspect of World War II, told on a rotational basis. The first is about an SS officer who is horrified by what he sees in the "work camps," so much so that he creates an opportunity to be captured by American forces and shipped to the US as a POW, hoping he can pass on his knowledge to someone who can stop Hitler. The second is about an 8-year-old boy, half-Jewish, who is bo
    Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
    “One does evil enough when one does nothing good.”

    I have to say that you should definitely be prepared for a somewhat heavy historical fiction before going in. Just like you would expect from a WW2 novel set in Nazi Germany, it showed the hardships that people experienced as well as the precious few moments that were a result of appreciating the precious seconds that were rare and kind of far between during those times.

    This was in general just a heartfelt, and long, journey. I have seen peop
    Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
    Not as impressed by this as most readers. There are three stories that kind of intertwine. First, the main story is about an SS officer horrified by the Nazi atrocities, who sends information to a pastor friend in the U.S. before assuming the identity of a German soldier to reach the U.S. to get help. He faces many obstacles along the way, initially from fellow countrymen and then by U.S. law enforcement. Second, a Jewish mother and son in the Netherlands trying to escape the Nazi's and reunite ...more
    May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Hidden Gem Alert!⠀⠀
    For my standards, this is up there with The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah. Yes, that's right! This book deserves all the stars! ⠀⠀⠀
    Jesus where do I was like reading all my top historical fiction books and combining it into one magnificent and unique story. Impeccably researched. Character development was superb. The way the story and the characters intertwined was just perfect. It was emotional, informative and leaves me speachless.⠀⠀⠀
    Author, Karla M. Jay r
    Karla Jay
    Apr 23, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
    I've read this book five times. Yes. Because I wrote it.
    Nancy Baker
    Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This was such a beautifully written story that so tenderly walks through the lives of various individuals throughout the latter years of WWII. These individuals have ties to America and Germany and those ties will either make or break their future.

    I spent much of the hours engrossed in this book with a tightening in my chest and tears in my eyes. The main characters in this story were of little importance -- just ordinary people trying to live out their lives in comfort and peace. But for some
    Apr 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    ”When we were brave” tells the story of three very different families that live during the WWII: a Jewish family, a German family that lives in Germany and a German family that lives in U.S.A. .
    Most of the time, when we hear the words World War II, we think about Holocaust and how many people were murdered by the Nazis, rarely we think how the soldiers lived, how could the SS do such terrible things and we never think how German civilians from other countries lived or how were they treated by th
    Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: own, kindle
    I am speechless. Not to minimize "Shindler's List", but this book goes above and beyond in capturing the horrors of the Holocaust. Meticulously researched details are interwoven into the stories of three lives. Three different persepectives that bring to life the realities, horrors and small, personal victories. If I were to recommend one book or movie that should be taught in schools; this would be it. It does not glorify. It does not proselytize. It presents facts and allows you to judge the a ...more
    Valerie Clark
    Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I enjoyed reading three different view points of World War II. Izaak was my favorite character due to his age and innocence. I thought she was clever to link the three main characters as she did. Most stories on WWII are full of gruesome details but this story line had just enough detail to remind us of the horror that was suffered but did not distract from the characters. The author was able to capture your heart to each person for different reasons. There was a part of the story that I really ...more
    Kelly Long
    Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley, fiction
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
    This is probably one of the best WWII books I have read. The 3 stories are so well written and could've each been a separate novel. Well researched and different than other books of this period I have read.
    Tammy Goodwin
    Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Loved this. Highly recommend!
    Stacey B
    Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I enjoyed this book.
    Well worth the read!!!!
    Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    When We Were Brave is a historical novel by Karla M. Jay. It is based on true stories of the Holocaust and features real people who were instrumental in either the perpetration of the horrors or those who tried to alleviate some of the horrors, even for a short period of time. It is told through three characters whose lives were destroyed or changed by the events that occurred. It is a very good book and one that makes you think of some of the different ways people suffered rather than just in t ...more
    Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    History has a way of reminding us that humans can very heartless. Think about slavery, colonization, and the holocaust. This book took me back to a time when men were truly monsters.

    In this story, Wilhem Falk is a former SS Officer who is trying to get the word out about the death camps. He has witnessed the despicable inhumanity of the German soldiers and wants the world to know. He hopes that creating awareness will put a stop to the madness. However, being an SS ‘traitor’ is a death sentence.
    Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay was an exceptional book that was told from three different perspectives. I think that that was what made it stand out above some others for me. Many of the books that I have read about World War II and the Holocaust have focused on one setting and the lives of the people in that setting. Karla M. Jay brilliantly portrayed the lives of a young Jewish boy, Izaak Tauber, living in Amsterdam with his mother and father at the beginning of World War II, a defected Na ...more
    Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay is a fabulous historical fiction piece of epic proportions.
    It interweaves the haunting stories of three main characters: Wilhem Falk (an SS officer who wants to right some of the wrongs of his fellow men), Isaak Tauber (a young Jewish boy with his mother and father just trying to survive the atrocities), and Herbert Muller ( a German-born man who with his wife became American citizens that live in Pennsylvania) all during the latter years of WWII.
    The author’s
    Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay is a must read for anyone interested in the history of Germany, America and World War II. Fascinating historical fiction based on the facts of World War II, Germany‘s Final Solution, American responses, and how people were affected by the action or non action of others. This book focuses on three main families and how their lives impact others. It delves into the war, the lives, the suffering and faith of both Individuals and nations. While not a Jewish or Chri ...more
    Maya Emmett
    Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Although I prefer other genres, I found this historical fiction worth reading. To me, and obviously others, this skillfully entwined trilogy proved to be a brilliant masterpiece of storytelling in how Karla created such believable characters. Allowing us to experience each one during a time in human history where they were forced to witness and endure unspeakable, heartbreaking tragedies. Atrocities. All still reverberating in the lives of far too many as we approach 2020. Also, the research was ...more
    Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    When We Were Brave by Karla M. Jay is a fabulous historical fiction piece of epic proportions.
    It interweaves the haunting stories of three main characters: Wilhem Falk (an SS officer who wants to right some of the wrongs of his fellow men), Isaak Tauber (a young Jewish boy with his mother and father just trying to survive the atrocities), and Herbert Muller ( a German-born man who with his wife became American citizens that live in Pennsylvania) all during the latter years of WWII.
    The author’s
    First of all, I won this free Kindle book in a Goodreads Giveaway for an honest opinion. This is a book with three different stories about people who survived living during WWII and all the horrors it brought with it. It took me a few chapters to really get into the book, but once I did it was hard to put down. The author tells each story and yet they all seem to tie together seamlessly. She realistically describes the human degradation experienced by prisoners in the Nazi camps. This is a well- ...more
    Derek Sanderson
    May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    You'll be on the edge of your seat, start to finish!!

    This is my first book by Ms. Karla M. Jay, and I enjoyed it immensely. She offers less-known perspectives of the holocaust: innocent German-Americans who were persecuted by their neighbours and the government; an SS officer who loathed what was happening, carried a deep sense of guilt, and tried to stop the terror in his own way--even at risk to his life; a half-Jewish child whose Catholic mother bravely shared in the suffering of her Jewish f
    Jean Blankenship
    Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: mamie-s-books
    When we were brave by Karla M Jay

    A world war 2, story told by three different people. Herbert Muller, a US citizen from Germany was accused of helping Germany and was send back to that country with all his possessions being taken from him. Izaak, a young Jewish boy sent to prison camps, separated from his mother and father, was chosen by Josef Mengele to be one of his experiments. Wilhelm Falk, an SS officer was sympathetic to the Jewish people. He took notes and wanted to destroy all of Hitler’
    Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    I have not read a book that has left me so broken in a long time. I do this to myself because WW2 stories and the evil that men and women did to others (and continue to do) is so hard to fathom, but yet I gravitate to these books all the time. I honestly can't put into words what a remarkable book this is. Told from 3 perspectives and as difficult as it is to read, especially the sections told by innocent 8 year old Izaak it is a book that needs to be read. I had to put the book down several tim ...more
    Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Rarely do I dip my toe into the genre of historical fiction, but with this book, I could not resist. Not only do you fall in love with the endearing and complex characters that populate the novel's pages, but the plot itself immediately draws you in. Both historical and contemporary, When We Were Brave speaks to the challenges and emotions that haunt humankind and shows the struggles of those brave enough to fight against powers larger than they originally imagined.

    Spell-binding and powerful, W
    Cathy Kildall
    Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The Power of Hope & Excruciating Pain of Loss

    I could not put it down. I read a lot about WWII. I especially like historical fiction based on real people or real events, which this story loosely is. Very well written, told from the viewpoint of three different people & settings that spiral & twist into each other in the end. The resilience of the characters who face horrible things & to know stuff like this actually just absolutely blows my mind. I highly recommend.
    Cheryl Roberts
    Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Kept me turning the pages

    This book was a great story. I thought at first, the three different points of view were going to be confusing. But not so. I moved from one to the other seamlessly. It had more than enough excitement to keep me interested. I didn't want the story to end. If you find the holocaust interesting, read this book. You will be transported from the camps, to the POW camps in the US, and to the war itself. It left me humbled and wanting more.
    Doug Cook
    Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Historically accurate account of WWII, full of terror, sadness, hope, & vindication!

    When We Were Brave is a page-turning account of the greatest human tragedy of modern times. This work of historical fiction is highly accurate in telling a tale of brave men, women & children walking, running & oftimes hiding in order to survive their worst nightmare!
    Frank Langman
    Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Truly outstanding

    I had trouble putting this book down as it was so interesting going from one story to another and always left in suspense at the end of each chapter. Well written and edited so well that I never found one typo mistake. Also the author wrote in the language that the common man could understand and not have to use a dictionary .
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    Karla M. Jay is an award-winning historical fiction author. She loves to travel, garden, and to discover a story that has never been told.

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