THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ
Written by Antonio Iturbe
Published by Henry Holt, October 20, 2017
My star rating – 2 stars
Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. Find it on Goodreads
This will be a short review as I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this – aside from the fact that I really didn’t enjoy this one. The subject matter alone promised to be a hard hitting and emotional story. The synopsis sounded equally amazing! It sounded right up my alley and something that I would hang on to every word as my heart broke into a million pieces. Sadly, none of that happened.
The first few chapters were absolutely stunning! There were quite a few quotes that I stopped reading and let the words sink in. The first few chapters set the story up in a way that was graphic and terrifying. It painted a picture of a group of oppressed people, who were living in the worst conditions, and were awaiting the day that they would be forced to walk naked into a gas chamber, that found a tiny ray of hope in a few books. They were in a concentration camp and managed to find a little bit of normalcy. A group of adults took the role as teachers and allowed the children to play games, sing songs, and learn.
Sadly after those first chapters, things fell apart – and quickly. I found myself no longer able to connect or relate to the characters. Being in such a situation as they were in, I fully expected to feel their pain, struggles, and desperation. Yet I found that all of those emotions were held at arms length. I’ve read MANY historical fictions set in this time period and setting, and this was possibly the least impactful book i’ve read on the subject. Not only did it feel monotone, but it was also repetitive. I understand that every day for them must have been repetitive. Their lives were controlled by soldiers who controlled when they worked, ate and slept. But this was a little too overwhelming.
I felt that there was this consistent build up to a thing that would happen and it never did. It was just a flatlined suspense for the same thing that happened a few chapters ago.
I know that there will be people out there that will love this book. I don’t think that you’re wrong in loving it! But this just wasn’t my taste. I wasn’t the right audience. It was a little too slow in pace and the characters weren’t vibrant enough for me to latch on to. Nothing breaks my heart more than to say this. I wanted to love it. But, like I said, it just wasn’t for me.
Until next time, happy reading!