Wow, it's been forever since I've written a book review for the blog. That's not to say I'm not reading... I am. Slower tan I'd like to be this year, but I am. To check out my progress or become friends with me, check out my Goodreads account here.
Today, I am writing about two books that are close to my heart. They are books written by Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky Sender, and they are the books that got me hooked on studying the horrible atrocities way back in 2000... 15 years ago. I alluded to these books in my post about visiting Auschwitz a couple weeks ago, and since I recently re-read them, I just have to share my thoughts.
First of all, these are young adult (YA) books - and they read like they are. The story moves quickly, and it will suck you right in. The Cage features Riva, a teenager, who lives in Lodz, Poland with her mother and younger brothers at the beginning of the Nazi occupation. She witnesses everything - from living in the Lodz Ghetto to seeing family members ripped away and dealing with deaths from illnesses. This book details Riva's life as she moves from place to place, facing her fears, and always fighting to stay alive. As her mother told her, "as long as there is life, there is hope", which is a broad theme throughout both books and what Riva uses to keep herself going in even the roughest situations.
The second book, To Life, tells about what happened after the war. We hear that the Jews were liberated - or freed from captivity - but most people stop thinking then. They do not think about the way these people (and in this book, women specifically) were treated by their Russian liberators, by the non-Nazi citizens of Germany, and even of the Polish citizens who took their homes while they were gone. We don't often learn about how long it took these survivors to reclaim their lives - and let me just say, it is a LONG time. I'm ashamed that I didn't know this part of history, but this book is a real eye-opener if you're looking to expand your knowledge of how survivors were treated. I highly recommend reading these books.
Oh, and did I mention that these books are memoirs from the author's own life? No fiction here - this is the real deal. Sender does a phenomenal job conveying the horrors that took place in a way that people will cry along with her as they take in so much information.
Both of these books deserve 5/5 stars from me. They are important pieces of literature, and I wish they were required reading in schools. After all, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.
To learn more about these books, check them out on Goodreads here:
Have you ever read these books?
Do you also like Holocaust literature?
What is your favorite historical event to read about?