In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans? The Martels are one of many families of German heritage whose ancestors have farmed in Ukraine for more than a century. But after already living under Stalin’s horrifying regime, Emil and Adeline decide they must run in retreat from their land with the wolves they despise to escape the Soviets and go in search of freedom. Caught between two warring forces and overcoming horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West, the Martels’ story is a brutal, complex, and ultimately triumphant tale that illuminates the extraordinary power of love, faith, and one family’s incredible will to survive and see their dreams realized.
The Last Green Valley
September 1, 2020
Courtesy of Amazon Publishing
- The Last Green Valley is a work of historical fiction, inspired by a true story. Do you feel that the story is authentic? How well do you think the author told a compelling story while also sticking to historical facts?
- Have you or your family members lived through World War II? Have you or your family immigrated to the US? How do your memories or family stories reflect the emotions in this book?
- Given the hardships the Martels had already endured, what emotional reserves do you feel they had to call upon to remain hopeful and stay on their trek to freedom?
- Rese almost dies after suffering through a horrific accident. Emil almost starved to death and faced an unforgivable ultimatum at gunpoint. The family endures unimaginable peril on their journey and at the hands of the Nazis. What does it mean to be brave in the face of death?
- There is a moment when Major Haussmann helps Rese after her accident. What do you think the author intended by choosing to portray such an evil man in this light? How did you feel about Haussmann’s action in contrast with the ultimatum given to Emil?
- Karoline is sometimes very cruel to Adeline, who is the mother of her grandchildren. Why do you think this is? What do you think of their reconciliation before they part ways?
- What are your thoughts on Corporal Gheorghe’s philosophy of life and how it influences Emil?
- When Emil and Adeline are torn apart, what gives Adeline the faith and strength to carry on? What makes her so sure they will be together again?
- What is your “green valley”?
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