Carnival Girl: Searching for God in the Aftermath of War by Sonja Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to review for this blog tour
Genre: Memoir, Christian non-fiction
Book Description: The only life little Sonja Francesco has ever known is traveling the carnival circuit and living with her five siblings in a tiny caravan home. The family never stays anywhere long enough for Sonja to make friends or develop roots. The only one in her family, Sonja always believed in God and wants to belong to a church.
At fourteen, Sonja meets the Mormon missionaries and develops a strong testimony of the truth of the Gospel. But can she live the commandments while traveling with the carnival and running one of the attractions every Sunday? Will it be possible for her to leave her family’s life behind and live the life she has always dreamed of?
My thoughts: When I agreed to review this book, I didn't know what to expect. I don't read many memoir's. I tend to be attracted to fiction.
I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and interesting story. This book details Sonja's life growing up in a travelling carnival. Every summer her family would move from city to city in post WWII Germany. They lived year round in a Caravan. With six children, this was not a comfortable life for the family. I learned quite a bit about the struggles of families to survive financially and find housing in the aftermath of the war.
I enjoyed that she started each chapter reminiscing with her mother who is visiting her in the United States from Germany. They have quite the story to tell. It was interesting and instructional. I love it when I am entertained and learn at the same time.
Sonja had a hard time feeling like she fit in with her family. Her mother was half Jewish and not religious. Her father was Catholic, but didn't practice his religion. Sonja wanted to know God. This desire was instrumental in guiding her life and helping her in her decisions. This made her more of an outcast from her family, they saw no reason to worship.
Eventually Sonja retells her conversion into the LDS faith. While it was pivotal in her life, it wasn't the whole of the story. This story runs much deeper than faith. It is the semantics of a family. It is the struggle to survive. I think anyone who is interested in history and life lessons will enjoy this book.
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 germanwriter.com.Find more reviews of the book by following the tour!
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