National Jewish Book Award winner Ronald H. Balson’s new historical novel, Eli’s Promise, takes readers back in time to 1939 Lublin, Poland. The story follows the Rosens, a prosperous Jewish family made up of Esther, a nurse, Eli who works with his father, running a brickyard and construction business, and Izaak, their young son, as they weather the collapse of everything they know when the Nazis invade Poland. After the Nazis aryanize all Jewish businesses, Eli must turn his company over to Maximilian Poleski, an unscrupulous man who peddles favors to Jews in dire straits while collaborating with the Germans. Poleski promises to keep Eli’s family safe, but will he?
Balson takes readers back and forth in time to tell Eli and his family’s story, jumping forward to 1946, where Eli and Izaak have been liberated from Buchenwald, and Esther has disappeared. They live, for a time, in a displaced persons camp in Germany, eventually escaping to the US where Eli works for the State Department investigating corruption and shady practices among politicians and contractors. It quickly becomes personal, however, as he begins finding clues that bring him back to World War II and the mystery of his wife’s disappearance.
Readers will surely enjoy this well researched historical novel, brimming with characters who represent both the good and the evil aspects of war and politics. Well suited for Book clubs, Eli’s Promise is bound to incite lively discussion since many of the issues raised are still very current; immigration, political corruption, war crimes, and justice.