Hey, so a thing happened.
A person, her name is Kate Breslin, wrote a book. It’s called “For Such a Time.” Note that I am not linking that title to anything. There’s a reason.
This book is about a Jewish woman in 1944, in a Nazi concentration camp, who falls in love with a Nazi commander. That love affair redeems said Nazi commander, they rescue a bunch of people from the camps [which, note, never happened] and then the Jewish woman converts to Christianity. There is a magic Bible that turns up repeatedly to inspire the heroes. Also, this is a retelling of the Book of Esther.
I’m not going to go on at length about why this is such an awful, deplorable, grotesque abomination of a concept. I will let other people do that, and recommend you go read. Those people:
- Guest reviewer Rachel at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
- Author and Smart Bitches co-founder Sarah Wendell
- Romance author Rose Lerner
- Romance and YA author Katherine Locke
What I am going to point out is this: For Such a Time is Kate Breslin’s first novel, which presumably means that:
1. Breslin had to write and send a query letter summarizing this story
2. A literary agent had to read that query, request the full, and decide This is a book I want to represent.
3. An editor at a publishing house had to receive the submission and love this book enough to publish it
That is, at minimum, two people besides Kate Breslin who agreed this story was one worth telling. More, probably, when you consider interns and people involved in acquisitions meetings. Now sure, if you look you’ll notice that both the agency and the publishing house focus on Christian literature, and perhaps have a certain bias or agenda, but then consider that Breslin’s book is a finalist for a RITA Award, given by the Romance Writers of America. This means that:
4. A panel of judges at the RWA had to grade this book within the top four percent of first books submitted.
There are nine finalists sharing Breslin’s category. Based on the RWA rules, that means there were no fewer than 203 books submitted, and maybe as many as 225.
Anyone who has published a first book, or even really attempted to, can attest to the difficulty in clearing all the hurdles, from query to publication, let alone contest finalist. The fact that a book this incredibly problematic cleared all those hurdles is astounding, and a little disheartening.
None of which is to suggest Kate Breslin is a bad writer. To the contrary, several reviewers who objected to the concept made a point to praise Breslin’s technique and ability. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t weigh in on the quality of writing–but there has never been a living writer talented enough to transcend this terribly offensive concept.
Here’s hoping Kate Breslin knew someone on the inside.