Thursday, February 26, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: White Gardenia by Belinda Alexandra

This is a book review for White Gardenia by Belinda Alexandra. I received the ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In a district of the city of Harbin, a haven for White Russian families since Russia’s Communist Revolution, Alina Kozlova must make a heartbreaking decision if her only child, Anya, is to survive the final days of World War II. White Gardenia sweeps across cultures and continents, from the glamorous nightclubs of Shanghai to the austerity of Cold War Soviet Russia in the 1960s, from a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean to a new life in post-war Australia. Both mother and daughter must make sacrifices, but is the price too high? Most importantly of all, will they ever find each other again? Rich in historical detail and reminiscent of stories by Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley, White Gardenia is a compelling and beautifully written tale about yearning, longing, and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child.

This book had me hooked from the very first sentence. However, because I was reading another book at the same time I didn't read beyond the first couple of pages at first. When I finally went back to the book, I was blown away. And I was sad that I didn't put more effort into this book from the very beginning. First of all, I loved the detail this author went into with the different cities this book was set. With so many different cities and cultures, it would appear to be a difficult task: to make every city stand out and to describe their beauty and their flaws. From the beautiful chaos of Shanghai to the isolation of the refugee camp to the scary new lands of Australia, this author wrote in such beautiful, vivid detail that it was easy to picture every scene. It drives me crazy when authors set books in exotic locations only to put minimum effort into describing the location. That was not a problem with this book. 

Anya's homesickness for Russia and for her mother was truly heartbreaking. Anya and her mother were separated when Anya was just thirteen years old. Anya's mother made a sacrifice in the beginning of the book to save her daughter. I was not expecting to be overly emotional with this book. Books that deal with cancer and suicide and death . . . those books make me cry. Sorry, but I wasn't expecting as much emotion as this author gave me. I am not ashamed to say that I got teary eyed more than once. I won't give away which parts made me emotional, because you know spoilers and all that. But if you read this book, prepared for major feels. Anya was so brave, even though she was shuffled from land to land because of circumstances of the war. I think the only real issue I had with the book is that a few of the events seemed a bit rushed, especially towards the end. I read the author's note and I appreciate all the research that went into this novel. The author does admit she condensed a few of the historical events for the sake of the story. The last quarter of the book was a roller coaster of emotions. Anya spent her whole life looking for her mother and I was holding my breath the whole time. I won't reveal whether they were reunited or not, but I was a sobbing mess. 

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy! If you are a fan of historical fiction, you will love this one!


  1. I love a good historical every now and then, I will definitely have to keep this one in mind next time I am in the mood for one.
    Great review! :D

    1. Thanks Kindlemom! I kind of have to be in a mood for historical fiction too. But when you are in the mood, I hope you will remember this one. It was so good. :)