When We Were Brave is a work of historical fiction penned by author Karla M. Jay, which focuses on events taking place during the Second World War. In a multi-perspective novel, we find ourselves following the lives of a collection of individuals stuck in Europe during wartime, and how their fates interweave as the story progresses. An SS officer tries to spread the word about the horrifying reality of the death camps, whilst young Izaak finds his life as a Jew getting more difficult by the moment, and an American family with German roots are sent back into the belly of the beast and left to their own devices to survive.
Combining excellent historical research with a compelling storyline, the hard work of author Karla M. Jay really pays off the more deeply involved you become with the characters in her plot. I found Wilhelm’s story to be the most compelling for me, as he was right in the spotlight and going through some fantastic emotional turmoil as a disillusioned SS officer trying to make things right for himself, and for the world. Jay really pays attention to the emotive aspect and motivations of all her characters, making them leap off the page with reality and endearing them to readers, which is what makes their hardship all the more harrowing to read about. As the plot threads and connections slowly come together, the conclusion marks the realities of war and sticks in your mind for a long time after. When We Were Brave is a highly recommended historical read.