Once We Were Brothers

Griffin: St. Martin's. Oct. 2013. 400p. ISBN 9781250046390. pap. $15.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466846708. F
OrangeReviewStarThe phenomenal triumph of lawyer-author John Grisham's legal thrillers has spawned surprisingly few successful emulators; however, Chicago attorney Balson's first novel, while featuring a young lawyer heroine, Catherine Lockhart, who sees her bar admission as a license to further justice, is no simple imitation of Grisham's entertaining potboilers. Cut from a better grade of cloth, it tells the haunting backstory tale of two boys, one Jewish and one a budding Nazi, caught in what became the death-scarred bloodlands of Eastern Europe divided between Stalin and Hitler. What happens when the boys meet again, 60 years later, launches a story that will not let readers go until the last page, long after they discover what occurred in Poland all those years ago.
VERDICT A self-publishing best seller, this novel is uplifting and moving, intelligently written and featuring historically accurate context and an unusual insight into human character and motivations. Highly recommended for all readers. [With a 100,000-copy first printing.]

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