“Konar makes every sentence count; it’s to her credit that the girls never come across as simply victims: they’re flawed, memorable characters trying to stay alive. This is a brutally beautiful book.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

I love World War II fiction, but despite all the novels and memoirs I have read, I don’t think I’ve ever read such a beautiful and unique aspect as the one offered in Mischling. The story is told from the perspective of twins in Mengele’s Zoo, the place where the monster Joseph Mengele experimented on Jews, particularly those with the Arian look, in the hope of unlocking the key to genetics.

The Mischling is beautifully written with passages you want to read over and over, which is quite the feat given the devastating and heart-wrenching subject matter. Told from the perspective of two young girls, the language is simple, even the atrocities are told in a quiet, understated way but The Mischling doesn’t end at liberation and this was my favourite thing about the book.

A novel in two parts, the first half tells of the horrors of Auschwitz and Mengele’s Zoo, the second is a reminder that being liberated didn’t mean you were saved as the residents of both Auschwitz and the Zoo join the biggest refugee chain in living history, wandering the countryside and trying to find themselves, and each other. It’s an often forgotten feature of the end of WWII and it’s easy today to forget the thousands of Jewish refugees walking the countryside looking for a home that no longer exists.

A highly recommended novel, beautifully written, and guaranteed to make you think and likely to stay with you way beyond the final page.

 

Reviewed by:

Kath Cross

Added 8th May 2017

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Kath Cross

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