We have reached the last book in our three- part series which takes us on a journey with people who lived through the concentration camps in Auschwitz. This book is a bit “‘meatier” than the previous two books, as I think Heather Morris took her time in the first two books to give us a true reflection of the living conditions in the camps. In this book she spends more time reflecting on the characters’ lives pre- and post -Auschwitz.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, reading it in doctor’s rooms, the car (not while driving, of course!) and just everywhere I went. Even at night, once my husband fell asleep. As usual, the author’s character development is rich and exceptionally specific, in such a way that you feel as if you are standing on the sidelines, watching your friends’ lives play out in front of you, leaving you helpless and not able to assist, but keeping you turning the pages, as you need to know what happens to them next.
The novel is based around three Slovakian sisters, Cibi, Magda and Livi, who made a promise to their father that they would always look after each other and stay together, as three are much stronger than one. This places them in circumstances where I think they often wonder why they ever made that promise, but they follow through and get themselves into life- threatening situations. Still, they keep on hearing their father’s request: always stay together.
In 1942, the threat of the Nazis was a constant in the three sisters’ daily lives, but at 15, Cibi was too young to be taken, and whenever they saw the soldiers approaching their home, Livi hid. Magda was in hospital for a while, and a doctor friend kept extending her stay even though she was healthy enough to go home, just to keep her safe. One fateful day, however, Livi and Cibi were taken while Magda was still in hospital. On her return, Magda was infuriated that her mother and grandfather would not allow her to go and join her sisters, as she had always taken the promise to her father very seriously. However, It was not too long before Magda was also caught and put in a camp next to that of her sisters. Meanwhile, they longed to be together, till one day when someone said they saw Magda in an adjacent camp. Immediately Livi plotted successfully to get her to their camp and cabin.
The circumstances the siblings had to endure were equally as horrifying as in the first two books of the series, however I left the book feeling that there was always someone from above steering and taking care of them. I do not wish to give away too much of this specific story, as it is an absolute must read! What I can say is there is even something for the romantic in all of us!
What struck me about the construct of the book is that, like in the other two books, there are many afterwords from main characters and their family members, which lends even more credibility to what was endured in the camps, and to the strength of the human spirit. The most exciting part, I can imagine, must have been for Heather Morris to meet two of the sisters, have lunch with them, see the candlesticks (the well- travelled heirloom from their mother) and look through their family albums. The book even provides a layout of the concentration camp to enable us as readers to picture the events more accurately. In addition to that are lists of people who were documented as prisoners and photos of their tattoos. Due to the bad quality of the photos, I am not able to share it with you.
Ladies, now that I have completed this 3- book series, I have to say it was riveting, exciting, albeit horrifying to see what people can do to each other, but the theme is definitely to never lose hope. Where there is hope, there are many opportunities. Please do yourselves a favour and read these books. I am sad to have to move on from them.