Reviews of Beginning Again at Zero (2016)
“My family immigrated to Canada from Finland in 1951. My wife’s grandmother immigrated to Canada from Finland in 1911. We stayed in a boarding house on Huron Street for 2 months when we arrived in Toronto. We attended church in a house in Toronto. We bathed in the same Sauna on Lake Wilcox in the early 1960’s. Reading “Beginning Again at Zero” brought a flood of memories and emotions, that anyone from that time period, or immigrating under similar circumstances, would feel: The childhood memories; Your first love; The homesickness; The loyalty to your Homeland; The excitement and enthusiasm of new beginnings.” – Pentti, Kincardine, ON
“Jack Saarela’s story of a Finnish immigrant in Canada is timeless and relevant. It is set against the background of the tense relationship between Finland and Russia and immigration restrictions in Canada on the cusp of World War II, but it resonates with the experiences of contemporary immigrants seeking to begin a new life in North America as they navigate a new culture, a new language, and the hardships they left behind.” – Linnea, Elkins Park, PA
Reviews of Accidental Saviors (2018):
Making a way out of no way
“Harsh and desperate times call for people of strong character to take a stand using whatever clever measures can be imagined to overcome adversity. Sometimes inertia is not an option. Sometimes taking a sacrificial risk is worth the effort.
Reading this book encouraged me to think about what it takes to make a difference. As the story unfolds, the characters are put to the test. It seems impossible to pull it off. The tension builds, plans are put in motion, and the outcomes are uncertain.
With plenty of drama, vivid details, and engaging characters, this historical novel explores the dynamics of various human—as well as inhumane—interactions during the 1940s in Hitler’s Germany and surrounding regions of occupation. I found the book to be an intriguing reading experience, making me wonder all along the way: “What will happen next?” I had no idea these heroes of Finnish descent could rival the courage of Corrie ten Boom’s experiences as described in her extraordinary book The Hiding Place.” – Vivian, Scotch Plains, NJ
“This is a novel about the second world war with two Finish characters, Algot Niska & Felix Kersten as the heroes of the story and a villainous anti-hero Heinrich Himmler. During the course of the war, we meet our hero Felix Kersten a massage therapist who has a gift for relieving the pain Himmler the SS hatchet man of Hitler.
It is in these unusual circumstances of healing, Himmler that Kersten forms a relationship with this powerful Nazi and begins to convince him to release Jewish prisoners. It is a strange pairing of like and dislike that holds these two people together. Of course, in the end Kersten saves many Jewish lives and perhaps change the fate of thousands of other Jews who might have been blown up had Himmler followed Hitler’s directives.
The other character is Algot Niska who is a former convicted Finish smuggler and he accidentally meets a young Jewish girl. Niska has a sympathy for helping various Jews escape Germany. He is a man who has seen terrible things in Nazis Germany and therefore manages to help smuggle Jewish people out of Germany.
The story is written extremely well and reads like a screenplay. It would be very easy to imagine it as a movie or a play for the stage also. The storyline action is fast and suspense is present. I found it a quick read and very hard to put down. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found the characters very believable. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction and the World War 2 period. The characters a bit black and white but given the subject matter it is to be expected. I recommend this second novel by Finnish born author Jack Saarela.” – Marietta, Toronto, ON
“In Accidental Saviors, Jack Saarela has woven a series of facts and real-life people into a compelling tale of historical fiction that pays tribute to two little-known heroes who stepped forward when the Nazi dealers of death ruled Europe. Many people today owe their lives to the life-saving efforts of Felix Kersten and Algot Niska, whom history seems to have forgotten. This thrilling book brings their dangerous struggles and life-saving successes out into the open.” – Marty, Dresher, PA