Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: war, war crimes, death.
Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars
WWII historical fiction is such a favorite genre for me, so it was pretty easy for me to dive right into The Girl With No Name. I’ve been trying to read solely from my physical TBR pile and my Goodreads ‘Want to Read’ list so that by the end of this year, I can start focusing on fresh new reads! Hence why, this is another audiobook review, because I’m still constantly on the go.
This novel starts off with fourteen year old Lisolette, or Lisa for short, who has just been shipped off to London on the Kindertransport to escape Nazi Germany, just before the start of World War II. She is adopted by a childless couple, Naomi and Dan, who take her in and raise her as if she were their own. They teach Lisa how to speak English, and with the help of her schoolmate, Hilda, she settles into her new life, but not without incident. She doesn’t let go of her past, hoping that someday she will be reunited with her family. She also finds herself being bullied by other schoolmates for being a German refugee. One afternoon, a young man named Harry Black comes to confront her terrorizers. There is something shifty about him, but Lisa finds out that he too is a German refugee, and they spark a secretive friendship.
As the war wages on, London becomes a target and the air raids begin. One day, Lisa travels to the other side of London with Harry. After a while, Lisa and Harry have a disagreement, and they part ways, only to be trapped in mid-day air raid. Trying to find a place for cover, an older gentleman tries to help Lisa, only to shield her in a bomb that knocks them both out. Lisa survives, but the man does not, and Lisa can’t remember anything- including her name. She is hospitalized, and Naomi searches everywhere for her, but Lisa goes unclaimed and is eventually sent off to a home for displaced children of the war. She is given a new name, Charlotte, while she awaits her memory’s return.
From there, Charlotte is relocated to the country, and takes up residence with an eccentric lady who was stuck in the past. Charlotte heals in the country, more at ease now that she isn’t constantly caught in the warfare, and though she runs into similar bullying issues, she befriends a young man named Billy, who helps protect her and welcomes her to his family farm. As her new family develops, she starts to regain her memories, and eventually aims to reconnect not only with her German family, but her London family as well.
I thought this novel was a very good read, because not only was there so much action, but there was also a lot of suspense that kept me intrigued about what would happen with Lisa/Charlotte. I wanted to know if she’d ever find her parents, if she’d chose Harry or Billy, and how long it would take her to regain her memory. I liked that the historical information didn’t bog down the read- though the war was used as a method for action in the plot, the story line maintained focus on the human interest aspect of the novel. I also like its unpredictability- not everything is resolved in a linear way, and there isn’t a tidy little bow at the end of this novel. I still have unanswered questions!
I definitely recommend the read- and the audiobook as well, though the accents were a little off-putting at times- for those who love historical fiction. As in other novels I’ve reviewed in the genre (The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, All The Light We Cannot See), the character’s stories pull me in and make me believe that this could have indeed happened to someone in this time period, and I love being able to look through their eyes.
TL/DR: The Girl With No Name is a WWII historical fiction novel in which the main character loses her memory after a bombing, which separates her and her family.
Read it? Yes, absolutely.
Recommend it? Yes! Suitable for most audiences.
Buy it? Yes, or download the audiobook!
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads:
- The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
- The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
- Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
- The Light Over London by Julia Kelly
- All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr