Resistance: Young Women in WW II Europe

Books about women in WWII never cease to fascinate me, and Aimee K. Runyan's The School for German Brides does not disappoint. Hannah and Tilde lead very different lives in 1938 Berlin, but neither conforms to traditional expectations: Hannah would rather become a doctor than make a match advantageous to her family, and Tilde, the product of a Christian-Jewish marriage, would much rather just be allowed to exist, let alone follow her father into the law. There are hasty marriages, hairs-breadth escapes and a good deal of taking advantage of the stereotype of the "nice girl."

Here are other books where the tales are unpredictable and unforgettable.

Based on the true story of Irena Sendler, Irena's War by James D. Shipman finds a social worker in a cat-and-mouse game with a Gestapo officer. Irena is a social worker, tasked by the Nazi occupiers of Warsaw with running a soup kitchen. They do not know (although they do suspect) that this has put Irena in an ideal position to help the Jews in the ghetto.

Also based on the work of Irena Sendler, though more loosely, is Kelly Rimmer's The Warsaw Orphan. Roman is 16, a denizen of the Warsaw Ghetto and possessed with a zeal for justice that is awe-inspiring. Elzbieta is 14, in love with Roman, and determined to help him and the other Jews caught inside the ghetto. 

In Stephan P. Kiernan's engaging The Baker's Secret, baker Emma has abandoned hope that the Nazis will ever be driven out of her village in Normandy. This does not stop her from small acts of resistance that lead to larger ones, until D-Day happens and perhaps life will finally improve.

It's true that that you never know how strong a woman is "until you put her in hot water," to quote Eleanor Roosevelt. Leave your tales of women of steel in the comments.