June 29, 2018
Genre/Categories: YA Historical Fiction, Fictionalized Biography, Jewish, WW11, Holocaust
***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Meet Dita Kraus, a real-life Auschwitz prisoner.
During the darkest hours of the Holocaust in an Auschwitz concentration camp, a young girl, Dita Kraus, risks her life to keep the magic of books alive. Imprisoned along with her mother and father, Dita finds meaning and purpose as the Librarian of a secret library within a secret school in the “family camp” section of Auschwitz, caring for eight precious volumes that have been smuggled in past the guards.
Be sure to read the author’s Afterward as he speaks of his interview with the real Dita Kraus about her incredible life, courage, and survival.
Amazon Rating (June): 4.4 Stars
It’s a privilege to read about the brave and heroic actions of Dita Kraus throughout the pages of this engaging and compelling story. A daring and feisty teenager, she exemplifies bravery as she is able to carry on with dangerous and risky activities despite her fear. Described as “born to swim against the tide,” Dita works together with her inspirational mentor Fredy Hirsch as they both risk their lives to ensure that the children at the Auschwitz “Family Camp” have access to an education. Fredy teaches Dita that “the children are the best thing we have” and that their work with the school is as important as being on the front lines:
“It’s war and each of us has our own front line. This one is ours, and we must fight to the end.”
“It doesn’t matter how many schools the Nazis close, he would say to [the teachers]. Each time someone stops to tell a story and children listen, a school has been established.”
In the course of her daily life in the camp, Dita sees many atrocities and struggles with fear, of course, and her way of coping is to daydream about the past (she can’t dream of a future in the camp)….she flips through her mental photo album of happier times and picks out one mental image to focus on and disciplines herself to appreciate every small detail in this snapshot of her previous happy life. These mental exercises sustain and calm her. In spite of her fear, she defiantly puts on a smile:
“In a place like Auschwitz where everything is designed to make you cry, a smile is an act of defiance.”
Before carrying out a dangerous task, she wisely and thoughtfully questions her motives: “Should [I] continue to risk and put the entire children’s block at risk just to prove [my] own bravery?…Is that selfish? Or is it braver to step aside?”
When I picked up this story to read, I didn’t realize that Dita is a real person and that the author had interviewed her for this book, and this fact enhanced my fascination with the story. Don’t miss the author’s Afterward which describes his meetings with real life Dita Kraus.
Dita represents many of the inspirational, courageous, and heroic Jewish people that were confined to concentration camps and fought for survival in WW11. It’s important to hear their stories. Read about the real life Dita Kraus here and also here.
Also, I didn’t notice while I read that this is a YA title. While the writing style is straightforward and simple, there are passages with graphic descriptions of suffering, atrocities, and death, so I might not recommend this to younger YA readers. Even though this is categorized YA, you won’t feel like you’re reading YA if you’re an adult reader. It’s definitely in the “cross over” category.
Recommended: The Librarian of Auschwitz is highly recommended for readers who are looking for a heartfelt story about a determined, inspirational, heroic, and courageous girl, for those who love WW11 historical fiction, and for all those who desire an engaging and compelling read. It’s one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Meet the Author, Antonio Iturbe
Antonio Iturbe lives in Spain, where he is both a novelist and a journalist. In researching this story, he interviewed Dita Kraus, the real-life librarian of Auschwitz.
Have you read The Librarian of Auschwitz or is it on your TBR?
Happy Reading Bookworms!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
My Summer TBR
I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, and I’ve only abandoned one)
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I’ll be reviewing The Ensemble next week. My library hold finally came in today. The Ensemble has received mixed reviews so I’m eager to see what I think.
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