Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II, this novel follows Eva, a young woman who uses her talent for forgery to help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. But Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children, who are too young to remember who they really are.
... [Harmel] bases her fiction on extensive historical research, including real-life forgers who had heroic roles during the war. Eva is fictional, but her story draws from fact ... It’s a thrilling story, with Eva dodging danger at every turn. Harmel weaves her extensive research into the story gracefully, and she keeps her engaging characters at the center ... Eva’s relationship with that long-lost book illuminates some of the unsung heroes of WWII, and she will reclaim the book, and her history, and more.
... Harmel’s The Book of Lost Names takes a WWII historical fiction book and turns it into something incredibly unique for a genre that can often seem overdone ... Even though some characters names change a few times throughout the story, Harmel manages to keep the reader in the loop of what is going on without causing confusion and without missing a beat. Each of the characters in The Book of Lost Names is well developed with solid storylines and keeps the reader guessing what’s going to happen next. Eva and Rémy have a close connection throughout the story and Harmel does an excellent job at pulling at the reader’s heartstrings as the potential love story evolves ... a brilliant historical fiction novel ... It is clear to the reader that a lot of research has been conducted, which in turn has made for a wonderful piece of historical fiction with facts sewn in.
Harmel deftly captures the despair of [the characters'] circumstances, the impenetrable distance to Auschwitz. Mamusia’s anguish soon results in Eva becoming the receptacle of her mother’s grievances: 'You failed him,' she tells her, referring to Eva’s father. Their relationship, which Harmel shows with brilliance and sympathy, cracks under this weight ... the novel launches the reader into a turbulent but heroic journey—one informed by Harmel’s fascinating research into forgers during World War II. Though fictional, the novel is heavily based on the lives of real forgers in France, giving added solemnity to the horrors and reverence to the characters’ courage ... Harmel’s profound historical tale speaks to that admonishment. Eva’s acts of resistance are what are called for when confronting a system that devastatingly targets a group of people. It’s hard not see in Eva’s fervor to remember forgotten names the same urgency in the call to remember the names of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and so many, many more.