Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Review: Carnival Girl By Sonja Herbert

Carnival Girl Searching for God in the Aftermath of War by Sonja Herbert is a engaging story about a young girl growing up through the end of World War 2 and what it was like being a member of a family that traveled throughout the country setting up carnivals for different cities to make ends meet. All while her half Jewish mother hid from the Nazi's in both the circus and later in the carnival she and her husband ran with their children.

Carnival Girl is a story about Sonja and what it was like for her growing up in these circumstances with a family that didn't see the need for religion in their lives and felt it was a waste of time and unimportant.

But Sonja never saw it that way. From a young age she yearned to know she wasn't so alone in spite of her family. That even when she made mistakes she would still be loved and watched over. With the sometimes volatile atmosphere at home it was hard as a young child for Sonja to wonder what she had done to bring on her mother's wrath.

But along the way she found out about prayer and God and how Jesus loved her and she was able to find strength and hope through the tough times of traveling in a caravan with her family's carnival. She never felt like she had a place to call home until one winter when she had the opportunity to take English lessons which then lead her to find the missionaries which changed her life.

Carnival Girl is a story of hope and faith. A story of how to overcome and persevere and how to find the hidden blessings and the love of God mixed in with the hard and sometimes unpredictable times. That strength could be gained and when life seems to be falling apart to have that quiet knowledge that God was beside Sonja lending her the fortitude she needed to get through.

I liked the way each chapter takes the reader deeper into the lives of the carnival and what that was like. The descriptions of life where vivid and it is easy to feel as if you could step into the pages of Circus  Girl and have it come to life before you.  I thought it was nice to start each chapter off with a picture of now with Sonja grown and with a family of her own sharing antedotes of her Mutti's visit to America. It gave a glimpse into Mutti's life and beliefs now, and showed that she was still very much the same and to see Sonja's patience and love in dealing with her mother.

Many times I felt that Mutti took out her frustration with life on her family and because she had to hid who she was from the world they got the brunt of it. At times I felt she was just harsh with her children, and marveled that Sonja could emerge from her experiences with the strength to stick to her decisions about joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in spite of the obstacles her family place in her way. I loved her determination to hold to her testimony and never let go.

Carnival Girl is a fast read which pulls you into the lives of Sonja's family and the hardships of the life she grew up in, that shows how life triumphs when faith in God abound. It made me  wish I could glimpse further into Sonja's life as a Latter-day Saint and what happened in her later teen and early adult years in a rebounding Germany.

A little about Sonja:
Sonja Herbert and her five siblings were raised in a
caravan, traveling the carnival circuit from town to town in post-
World War II Germany.
Sonja converted to the LDS Church, later married, and immigrated
to the United States, where she received a bachelor of arts degree at Southern
Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, and a master of arts degree from
Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She also raised six children,
taught school and ESL, and is now a freelance writer.
Besides her childhood memoir, Sonja has also written many autobiographical
stories, which have been published in the Chicken Soup for the
Soul series and other anthologies. A biographical novel about her half-
Jewish mother’s experiences in Nazi Germany is almost finished.
Sonja lives in Provo with her husband and cat. You can find more
about her unusual life at here.

You can get you copy of Carnival Girl by clicking here


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful review! I appreciate it a lot!

Debbie Davis said...

thanks for sharing your story Sonja =0)