Sunday 25 November 2018

Book Review: The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe (Historical/YA)

Title: The Librarian of Auschwitz
Author: Antonio Iturbe
Pan Macmillan Australia

Publication Date: 27 November 2018
Review Copy from Publisher

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 TerezĂ­n 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.

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

The Librarian of Auschwitz was certainly a page-turner. I was always keen to see what would happen next and which of the characters would make it through. In such a dark place, it's inspiring to see a spark of hope, and I think this is a good, gentle way to introduce younger readers to the Holocaust and the atrocities that went on. I see some readers have complained about the way parts of the book felt like fiction and other parts non-fiction. However, that didn't bother me. I read a lot of non-fiction, too, so perhaps that's why I had no difficulty with the style. The one thing I felt did let the book down, and stopped me giving it five stars, was that I struggled to form a deep emotional connection to Dita. As a character, she always felt a step removed from me. For me, the most interesting character was Freddy Hirsch, so the book has inspired me to learn more about him. Overall, though, this was a good read that combined an exciting plot with important historical truths that should never be forgotten.

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