Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Books & Writing - The Train Baby's Mother - A Must Read

I was honored to be included as a judge for the first ever OCW Cascade Writing Contest. I'll admit to being skeptical about contests, in general. They tend to be subjective, and therefore difficult to gauge. But they can also be fun, educational and encouraging. 

As it turns out, the awards banquet for the Cascade Writing Contest was amazing and fun. This year's winner in the category of the published fiction was Sharon Bernash Smith's book, The Train Baby's Mother. 

While reading, I was impressed with this writer and touched by the story.  I highly recommend The Train Baby's Mother.

A time of great evil.
Unfathomable betrayal.
A desperate act.

Hadassah Jensen, a Holocaust survivor of Ravensbruck has spent twenty years trying to forget her haunting memories. Worst of all is the dark day the train hurled through the snow-covered countryside of Nazi Germany, throwing her life into a tumult from which she has not recovered. But when a piece of the puzzle from her past returns, she's confronted with her deepest shame.

Professor Fritz Miller will always remember the fierce protectiveness he felt the day he, as a twelve-year-old German farm boy, found the Jewish baby lying in the snow, next to the train tracks . . . and then had to give her up. When a shocking revelation emerges, he wonders, Is it possible to change destiny? And, If so, will there even be time to do so?

Sharon calls what she writes Reality Fiction: Where life meets imagination. "I'm willing to tackle the tough subjects that relate to the human struggles we all face. There are no "pat" answers in life and you won't find them in my books."

Sharon loves spending time with friends and family, especially her four granddaughters, as well as land sailing in the beautiful Columbia River gorge. She and her husband attend a large, Evangelical Church in Vancouver, Washington.

She'd like you to know that she's a cowgirl at heart.

I chatted with Sharon Bernash Smith the night of the awards and asked, "Why this story?" Her answer is included on the introduction of her book - thought provoking  words.

Here is what she says.

It is impossible to summarize within the pages of one book the level of destruction perpetrated against humanity during the Holocaust when Europe became Adolph Hitler's hunting ground. Anyone possessing a minute drop of Jewish blood was meant to be wiped off the face of the earth, along with those who dared interfere with his diabolical plan. He meant to exterminate them all, in order, he said, to create a "pure" race, worthy of preserving his chosen species.

Though all the stories can never be told (there are over six million), I've written a fictional account of one woman's imprisonment, survival, and fulfillment of her personal destiny. I've called her Hadassah.

My introduction to the Holocaust came when I discovered a book, Adolf Eichmann, a high ranking officer in the German Army, in my high school library. Every page held the most hideous details of his evil involvement in the mass exterminations. This was only fifteen years after World War II had ended, yet not one of my history classes had mentioned this vast debased atrocity.

I never forgot the book or the impact of its contents. Through the years, more and more information came to the forefront, and I began to glean a deeper insight, though I've yet to comprehend the evil behind it. I wonder, can anyone?

As an adult I saw The Hiding Place, a movie based on Corrie ten Boom's experience while hiding Jewish refugees in Holland during the German occupation. Tragically, her family was betrayed and all were sent to prison. Corrie and her sister, Betsy, eventually ended up in Ravensbruck, a German prison camp for women. Betsy died there, but Corrie was miraculously released to become a world wide speaker, called to "tramp for the Lord", until her death in her nineties.

After becoming a Christian myself, I read every book she wrote, and every book written about her. She became my mentor and to this day I am grateful for the life she lived and so graciously shared with others.

In 2008 I wrote a story "The Train Baby", based on information from a friend (she is the real Elllie in this book) who grew up in Germany during the war.

More than once her brothers took babies from Jewish captives held in cattle cars on the way to extermination camps. Each infant had been hidden in her family's basement and fed the only substance 

available . . . water from soaked bread. When it was safe, and arrangements had been made, the infants were moved to the Jewish underground by their sympathizers.

Later, I realized I wanted to tell a story about the train baby's mother. How did she die or how did she live?

I'm excited to share this story of God's plan and intimate participation in human destiny. I'm hoping and praying that the reality of God's grace will cause people to love him with deep affection, honor him more openly and trust him with gratitude. For as the Jews have always been God's chosen people, so, dear reader are you.

After reading this book all I could think of was, who can I share it with first? It's so good. Not because it's a pretty story. It's not. It's real and gritty and surprising. It changes hearts and minds. 

As a fellow writer I was impressed with this authors style. She is courageous, inventive and introduces you to characters so real you feel you know them.

I encourage you to read this book. It is well worth your time.

You can connect with Sharon -

on her blog at sharonbernashsmith. 
Facebook at


  1. Anonymous8:46 PM

    Thanks Bonnie for having Sharon here. That was a horrible time in History. I hear they are removing any mention of the Holocaust in the history books, because it offends the Muslims and they say it never happened. But will add that they were part of the history of America from the beginning. Hogwash! I hate that our future won't even know our true history, if we don't teach it to them ourselves. I read Corrie's books too. She was a real example of what GOD expects from each of us. I would love to win your book. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  2. Hi Maxie. I've heard about the efforts to erase the Holocaust from the history books. I don't think it will happen. There are too many who truly know. But, we do need to pass on the truth. And remember it can happen to any one . . . if we allow it.

    Grace and peace to you.