Tag Archives: holocaust

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (unabridged audiobook read by Michael Maloney; 5 hrs on 4 discs): Usually I like to have a sentence or two of synopsis to start off with, but the only thing I knew going into this was that it had something to do with the Holocaust. And honestly I think that was probably the best way. Bruno captured my heart, and frankly the end was a little traumatizing. While I can’t say that I necessarily liked this story, it was incredibly moving and a very important story. Definitely one to read by all, and a very good way to open the door to a conversation with children about the Holocaust. Definitely something that will stick with me for a long time.

A note on the audio: Maloney was quite good, being funny or sensitive as the situation required. This particular version also had a brief conversation between Boyne and his publisher, which was interesting but not strictly necessary. That is, I liked hearing about the book’s reception but I didn’t feel it added anything to my overall experience.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman: I read this in two separate volumes but they were back to back so I’m going to review the whole thing as one. This is the tale of Spiegelman’s father’s experiences during the Holocaust in Poland, as told through interviews with his son. There are a large number of flashbacks, but interspersed are present-day exchanges as Spiegelman attempts to deal with his often unreasonable father. A number of interesting things were done here: first, the father’s imperfect English was kept verbatim, so I could completely hear his Polish accent. Second, various creatures were used to represent various peoples: Jews were mice, Germans were cats, Poles were pigs, Swedes were reindeer, and Americans were dogs. Oddly, the animal attributes were only applied to the heads; the bodies were unquestionably human. The tale itself was one of horror, as expected, but also one of love and hope. The choice to tell it as a comic in stark black and white was a wise one: it really drove it home for me, leaving me with both words and images. The Holocaust – much of WWII, really – remains an incredible, almost unbelievable part of human history, and one that must never be forgotten. Maus is only one story from it, but it is a powerful one nonetheless. Recommended.

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen: Hannah opens the apartment door to symbolically let in Elijah during a particularly boring Passover celebration with her family and suddenly finds herself in 1940s Poland just as all the Jews in the village are being rounded up to be taken to a concentration camp. I’ve read about the Holocaust on a number of occasions, but every new account reveals new horrors. Though this particular story is fiction, a lot of the details were straight from survivors. For a young adult novel, this is a pretty detailed description of life in the camps without being excessively graphic, and as expected, it’s something that will stay with me for a very long time.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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