Stephan Collishaw: The Song of the Stork


I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers as part of their Legend100 Club in exchange for an honest review.

Fifteen-year old Yael is on the run. The Jewish girl seeks shelter from the Germans on the farm of the village outcast. Aleksei is mute and solitary, but as the brutal winter advances, he reluctantly takes her in and a delicate relationship develops.

As her feelings towards Aleksei change, the war intrudes and Yael is forced to join a Jewish partisan group fighting in the woods.

Torn apart and fighting for her life, The Song of the Stork is Yael’s story of love, hope and survival. It is the story of one woman finding a voice as the voices around her are extinguished.

The Song of the Stork is a novel about the survival of a Jewish girl in war-torn Germany as the Jewish are sought out by the army. Dubbed to be “vermin” and with those around them threatened with execution for harboring anyone Jewish, Yael is in a precarious position. She has lost everyone that she has held dear to her, bar her brother Josef who is out fighting on the front-lines with the Soviet Army. After experiencing the death of a friend she has been hiding out with, Yael turns to the only person she believes can keep her alive, Aleskei – a young man who cannot talk and very rarely ventures from his farm.

During a time of prejudice, anxiety, and fear, Yael and Aleksei form an unlikely bond overcoming all of these emotions and providing hope to Yael and the reader. What starts with Aleksei frantically trying to push Yael in another direction to keep himself from being apprehended by the German army, turns into a quiet, loving relationship where both Yael and Aleksei easily slot into each others lives. Collishaw gradually progresses the relationship over the majority of the book, from timid and uneasy interactions between the two, to an unspoken understanding of the way each other works. Their relationship brings so much hope and love into Yael’s life and, though it is hard to describe, made me feel so elated that, in this time of war, there was a pocket of peace – a place of serenity. Overtime, Aleksei and Yael encounter various people, all of which may turn them in and or be a member of the German Army, potentially forcing them apart.

Ultimately, this novel is about survival, and purely the survival of Yael. Each various encounter pushes her further and allows her to experience a new day and understand the war around her in varying ways. For a girl so young (only sixteen-years-old), Collishaw portrays a woman who is resourceful in many ways; foraging for food in the woods, sewing new clothes out of old fabrics, learning how to handle a gun. You completely lose track of Yael’s age and begin to understand that she has had to grow up so quickly due to her circumstances. However, though primarily about Yael’s survival, Collishaw also highlights the movements that were hidden in the shadows, deep within Germany territory trying to survive until such a time as they could go home again. At a point in the novel, Yael is forced out of her pocket of peace for fear of being captured and is found by a group of partisans who have been sabotaging enemy supply lines and providing a safe haven for those of Jewish descent. It shows the scale at which these people were fighting against the Germans the various factions within this movement, but also shows the love that Yael has for Aleksei as she faces new challenges away from him and an uncertainty as to his fate.

I wasn’t expecting much from this novel. I was intrigued by the synopsis and the cover, and I love to try and read novels that I wouldn’t usually pick up. I was extremely grateful to have picked up this novel and experiences Yael’s journey, reading a perspective, I personally, had not read before regarding World War 2. It is a refreshing read that is full of so much love and hope. Collishaw writes beautifully and so much happens in such a small book that spans a few years. The pacing was brilliant and each event added to the narrative and provided something to progress it forward. I really loved this book, and is one that I have already been recommending.



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