A Book Review: ‘The Fortunate Ones’ by Catherine Hokin


From 1939 to 1945, World War II would rage on and become one of the most detrimental events in the world’s history. 

Under the rule of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, the titles of Jew and German became deciding points for who did or didn’t deserve life in Germany during what is now known as the Holocaust. 

Millions of people were ripped from their homes due to the uncontrolled factor of their genetics and taken to concentration and labor camps where they were separated from all loved ones along with all hope. 

Catherine Hokin’s The Fortunate Ones tells the story of a young Jew man, Felix Thalberg, and a German girl, Inge Haberman, and the struggles and horror they became unwillingly involved.

Elements Hokin did well

Right off the bat, Hokin does an exceptional job of providing a backstory for the characters that make them human with their own problems, thoughts, and events going on in their lives that help us to connect and see that these people are human. 

Felix being annoyed with his mother’s lack of timeliness and Inge’s struggle to pick out the right dress provide a sense of lightness to the story that allows Hokin to really transform the character’s throughout the book as they experience hardships and become lesser in hope. 

Hokin also presented factual information which was a point of intrigue as I connected things I’d learned in history classes to the story being told. 

Having what became, in my mind, two real people in the roles that I would have otherwise been uncaring for in history books help in making the story more personal and dragging you into the underground world.

Throughout this story, Hokin provides us with an alternating first-person point of view between Felix and Inge. Hokin did this in a way that gave me both sympathy and anger toward the characters. 

I became invested in the way these views connected and created a bigger picture which proved to be critical in understanding the decisions made by both characters and eventually the ending.

Elements that could be improved

Because this was a realistic fiction book, I expected the romance part of the plot to follow that same pattern but instead Hokin decided to make the characters fall in love within 2 days of knowing each other. 

I think it would have aided in more development within the romantic plot if the star-crossed lovers had had a little more time to actually get to know each other instead of adopting the unrealistic trope of instantaneous love. 

I will say that the dynamic it created at the end allowed me to be a little more understanding of this idea, but I still stand solid that this takes away from the overall realistic feel of the book.

Overall Rating

Through the characters’ backgrounds, the unexpected love story, and the use of factual information, Hokin wrote a 4/5 novel I would definitely consider reading again. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance story, I found the underlying plot to be one I couldn’t deny was intriguing and enjoyable. 

I would recommend it to anyone looking for a historically accurate and truly emotional read no matter the background. 

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