January 14, 2016 by kitmoss
REVIEW: Snow Moon Rising: A Novel of WWII
Mischka Gallo, a proud Roma woman, knows horses, dancing, and travel. Every day since her birth, she and her extended family have been on the road in their vardo wagons meandering mostly through Poland and Germany. She learned early to ignore the taunts and insults of all those who call her people “Gypsies” and do not understand their close-knit society and way of life. Pauline “Pippi” Stanek has lived a settled life in a small German town along the eastern border of Poland and Germany. In her mid-teens, she meets Mischka and her family through her brother, Emil Stanek, a World War I soldier who went AWOL and was adopted by Mischka’s troupe. Mischka and Pippi become fast friends, and they keep in touch over the years. But then, the Second World War heats up, and all of Europe is in turmoil. Men are conscripted into the Axis or the Allied armies, “undesirables” are turned over to slave labor camps, and with every day that passes, the danger for Mischka, Emil, and their families increases. The Nazi forces will not stop until they’ve rounded up and destroyed every Gypsy, Jew, dissident, and homosexual. On the run and separated from her family, Mischka can hardly comprehend the obstacles that face her. When she is captured, she must use all her wits just to stay alive. Can Mischka survive through the hell of the war in Europe and find her family? In a world beset by war, two women on either side of the conflagration breach the divide-and save one another. Snow Moon Rising is a stunning novel of two women’s enduring love and friendship across family, clan, and cultural barriers. It’s a novel of desperation and honor, hope and fear at a time when the world was split into a million pieces.
REVIEW by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
To call this novel “epic” is to undersell it. I have read several of Lori L. Lake’s contemporary lesbian novels and now have worked with her on putting together an anthology of LGBT stories from American history, but nothing could have prepared me from this highly original, very complex novel.
We all have read a few stories of the lives and deaths of European Jews during World War II. It is a rather familiar story. But Lake somehow found within herself the empathy and heart to tell a story that is much broader and includes those outsiders most people don’t even know about. It is astounding just how rapacious the Nazis were, including so many more groups in their death camps.
This novel starts in Eastern Europe but finds its way to the United States to tell the whole story of a couple generations of women and men who lived through the horror of the twentieth century. Sadly we may think what the Nazis did to the Jews and others is the worst humankind can have done, but any reader of history or historical fiction will find that this Holocaust happens over and over, and the curse “doomed to relive” is a constant reality. All over the world and in all times, there have been and will continue to be holocausts.
Yet Lake offers us a heartfelt and tender story to women in love and how this gentle affection can gift a person with healing. Now that gay marriage is a reality, we can all venture to hope that at least there is a little joy in people’s lives.