Author: Carol Strazer
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc
ISBN: 978-1-4327-9380-7

Pray. If only she could remember all those Bible verses she’d memorized. Instead, her thoughts seem like her father’s chickens – running in circles at every thunder clap. Only this isn’t thunder. Wrapping her arms ever more securely around the children, she begins humming her favorite Mennonite hymn,” writes author Carol Strazer in her first novel, Barbed Wire and Daises.

With two hundred and seventy-two pages, this paperback book depicts a black and white photograph of barbed wire and daises with a mother and child infused in the clouds on the front cover. The back cover has two paragraphs about the book along with the author’s photograph and biography. Although there is no sex or profanity, due to the violence and demoralization of humans, the book would not be suitable for immature teenagers or younger.

Written in present tense, the story is about Marike, a married Prussian Mennonite and her four children who flee their homeland at the end of World War II only to become five of the two hundred thousand refugees in Denmark. Unknowing the happenstance of her missing husband at war and the barrage of fears, rumors and war stories, she is torn between leaving anywhere they settle, waiting expectantly to hear word of her husband. Traveling from the bombed Danzig via a disease-infested boat, she, her children and relatives finally arrive at one of many refugee camps where they try to survive in spite of the Danish mistreatment. After dealing with the death of both her parents, Marike reunites in one of the camps with her callous, negative mother-in-law who learns she has to adapt, just like them.

Strazer confidently writes with emotion and detail that one feels and sees the family’s drain of self-worth, slow starvation, poor sanitation, illnesses such as rickets and pleurisy, and death of loved ones. All that is left is determination, self-preservation and love. With the young children in tow from camp to camp, new country to new country, this heroine never gives up her faith in God, love for her little ones, and hope in the future by keeping the family together.

After three years of captivity, the family travels to live with a task-master father and daughter in Germany before they get their approved visas and sponsors to live in America with other Mennonites, where, once again, the land, people and customs are so different.

Well organized and explained, this tome shows the compassion, love and sacrifice of a family who had no other choice to survive by escaping their own country and living as prisoners among those who hated them, yet endured with fortitude and strength in this heart-wrenching tale.

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