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The Incidental Spy by Libby Fischer Hellmann

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Incidental SpyHow does anyone become a spy? Oftentimes it is not the person that chooses the profession but the profession which chooses the person. Lena became a spy because of who she was, who she knew, and how she could be controlled. Lena was forced to be a spy. She felt that she had no choices.

Being a Jew has frequently been dangerous throughout history in many places in Europe. This was especially true for those families who lived in Europe prior to the Second World War. For Lena, her life is no different than many people of the time, only much more complicated.

Lena is in love with her childhood sweetheart who is also Jewish. Josef just doesn’t look Jewish but Scandinavian. The two know that their souls are destined to be together and truly believe that somehow, they will be together. Their intention is to marry, but the threat of the Nazi party throughout Europe force the families to move.

Lena is fortunate. Her family sends her to an aunt living in the Chicago area. She her family to join her eventually as well as Josef. However the Nazi movement overtook the people of the neighboring countries faster than expected. Lena had to learn to connect with her family and friends through the infrequent letters. Sometime she feels guilty leaving her love ones behind.

Lena’s aunt arranges to have her educated in English and even assists her in a job at a local university as secretary to the physics department. Her aunt knows that Lena needs to be busy and to develop a new life in her new country.

Lena’s new life changes everything including marrying another man and having his child. She is happily adjusted to her new life when her husband is killed. Suddenly being s single parent supporting a child makes life difficult. She just doesn’t realize how difficult and complicated will become. Can Lena be forced to become someone that she does not choose to become?

The Incidental Spy is a page-turner. Viewing the situations of the time period with what would become the Manhattan Project through Lena’s eyes makes the reader contemplate what would be their choice in the same situation. Unfortunately, Lena has no choices, forcing her to become a pawn in a dangerous game in becoming a spy.

The story is short, but superbly developed into a logically thrilling story with well-developed characters that seem too human many times.

The Incidental Spy is a riveting tale for anyone who enjoys a haunting and memorable story.

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