Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wish The Writing Was Better

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Historical Fiction

I hate to be dismissive of such a traumatic and horrendous life event but this book felt like just another Holocaust tale to me.  And, while all survivor's stories need to be heard, there is a challenge on the part of the storyteller to weave a tale that captures an audience.  This one just didn't do that for me.

This story is based on true events and those events are fascinating, too unbelievable to be true.  Yet, it is.  The story revolves around Yanek Gruener, a Jewish boy living in Poland in the 1930's.  The story seems to be a near miss for Yaken's family and then he describes the desperate last days of his parents before their disappearance, living in a pigeon coop on top of their apartment building.  Yanek is captured by the Nazis and sent to one concentration camp, then another, then another--10 different concentration camps in all.  B-3087 is his prisoner number, his tattoo the one thing that never changes.

It is a horrifying and harrowing tale, made even worse by Gruener's near death misses and the description of how many Jews met their fate, at the frivolous whims of the soldiers.Yaken survives at all costs--learning to forget the lives and people he left behind, learning to not care about anyone around him.  He is focused only on his own survival.

This book is told as a memoir with another author recording the story.  Perhaps this made the story feel one step removed for me.  An important story to read, but not one that will be on your 'most-affecting' list.

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