Hey there friends of B+S! I am coming at you with another B+S’s Book Review on the historical-fiction, Occupied by Kurt Blorstad. Mr. Blorstad reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his book one day, and I was 1000 percent, over the moon excited for the opportunity. This was the first time anyone had asked little ol’ me to review their work, and I quickly agreed.
As with any of my Book Reviews, whether a copy bought or a copy sent, I promise to be completely honest and stress what I loved and didn’t love about the book. No funny business over here… I promise!
Historical fictions aren’t what you would normally find stuffed inside of my bag somewhere, but I figured it couldn’t be that bad because I love Jane Austen and I just so happen to love period films as well. That’s gotta count for something right?
Well, guys…let me just say that I am so glad that I decided to do this review!!! I really really loved this book! It warmed my heart and gave my emotions a nice booster shot in a time when I feel we all could use a nice factory reset on how to start feeling deeply again.
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Author: Kurt Blorstad
Publisher/ Publication Year: Odin Publishing, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
First, the Goodreads synopsis:
A world at war, a family kept apart and a young boy in the midst of it all. Will they all survive? As WW II breaks out, a father finds himself in the U.S. while his wife and sons are home in occupied Norway. Based on the son’s true-life journals from 1935-1945, this is the story of a family separated by war and uncertainty.
The Setting/ Plot and Characters…
It’s August 1st, 1999, and it’s Trygve’s 70th birthday. He and his son are visiting Norway to reunite with family that he hasn’t seen in years. During the visit, Trygve and his son made their way up from the South of Norway, to Oslo, to Bergen, to Spangereid, finally stopping in Vanse, the hometown of his mother’s side of the family. Here in Vanse, Trygve would once again embark on a journey from his childhood, by telling his son the true story of this little town’s big role in resisting the German Occupation of Norway in 1940.
Kurt does an amazing job of describing the setting with so much exuberance and detail that you easily feel like you’re standing right in the middle of the little town, the graveyard, the bus station or the bakery from the book. You don’t have to guess what everything must’ve looked like because Kurt paints the scene so well that all the guesswork goes out of the door. As the reader, all you need to do is get lost in a simpler time. Oh wait… how can it be a simpler time when it’s a story about Occupied Norway? Good point…
But that just goes to show you how well Kurt Blorstad was able to tell the story of this small, simple, hardworking and loving family and the town where they lived. You almost forget that you’re reading a story about a horrible time in our history because you’re swept away by the calming effects that the descriptions of the family have on your psyche. Not to mention the wholesomeness of the town. You just want to be a part of the warmth that radiated from the pages when you were reading about them all. That’s some pretty damn good writing if it can make you forget that you were reading about an oppressed town because it was but a mere shadow to the love they expressed to each other daily.
When the story flashbacked to 1936, your main characters, Thoralf and Trygve, were only 8 and 7, and the thought of Norway falling to Germany was not a thought that crossed any of your characters’ minds. The brothers were getting ready to move, with their mother and little brother, to Vanse, while their father was in America working and saving money so that he can move the entire family across seas to live with him.
The story stretched out for the ten years that the family was separated from their father. During their time in Vanse, the story weaved through the good times, the hard times, the growing pains and the moments of great pride that the family shared. Birthdays and Christmases were heavily celebrated, and modesty was second nature in the home. Looking out for one another remained a constant theme, even when the tone of the book switched from family-friendly to Nazi-Germany scary.
As you progress through the story, the Germans’ grip over Vanse became tighter and tighter. You slowly began to realize that the childish, carefree world that the boys once lived in would soon become obsolete, leaving a world full of fear and uncertainty behind. The boys had to grow into the men they were meant to be… and their true tests of manhood were staring down at them like the barrel of a gun.
The Family: Bestemor, Mother, Onkel Tarald (and family), Thoralf, Trygve, Odd, Thelma
No one in the family was a stranger to hard work, and everyone contributed their part to make sure the family continued to operate like a well-oiled familial machine. The boys were constantly working to help support the family in one way or another and they were always very generous with sharing their earnings with the other members in the family. They all believed strongly that nothing you received should be given to you, and you must earn it in some way. This belief that one should contribute to their community to better it was the sole reason Vanse faired so well during the German Occupation. Every single member of the family contributed greatly to the town, and their help helped seal the town’s fate forever.
What I loved about Occupied:
The family. I just loved them. I loved how they loved each other. I loved how they worked hard for the bare minimums. The way they handled any obstacle thrown their way with grace and dignity.
I loved how all warm and fuzzy I felt reading about the way they spent birthdays and Christmases. The way my stomach would growl reading the mouth-watering descriptions of the different foods.
I loved how my anxiety was on edge during the times of espionage, and how my heart cried during the moments of loss.
What I didn’t like so much…
If I had to find something to not like with this book, it would be the amount of time focused on the actual occupation and the boys’ role in the resistance. I know that Kurt probably wanted to remind the reader that there were real people and families still trying to maintain a normal existence during this time, and he wanted to keep the family’s “everyday life” intact in this way. However, the spy aspect of this story was one that was too good to skimp on, and I felt that we just didn’t get enough of that heart-racing suspense that came from the telling of those events.
Sooo… how do I rate this tale of family, courage, and perseverance?
4 B+S approval rating.
This story gave me so much goodness, but I had to give it 4 stars because it just didn’t give me enough of the juicy stuff. Not that I wanted to hear about murders or anything like that, but a lot more emphasis on the sneaky espionage going on in the town would’ve really sealed the deal.
All in all… an amazing book. One that I could see myself reading to my kids one day.
About the Author: Kurt Blorstad
Storytelling is my passion. I have told my stories so many times to friends and family that sharing them in a book format was the obvious next step allowing me to share them with you..
From the short stories in Plane Excitement to my novelized family saga, Occupied, my goal is to write my voice as if you are standing before me.
Get your copies of his books: