For readers of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Choice: this is the story of the smallest library in the world – and the most dangerous.
‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín 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 books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.
But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…
I really enjoyed this story and thought it was well researched and very well put together, it is certainly a story that will stay with me.
I loved that the story is based on the true life of Dita Kraus and I think the author did a really good job of bring what it would have been like during her time at Auschwitz to life. I can only image what she and the children based there had to deal with and it really is harrowing.
I will admit that I am fascinated by this period of history, possibly because when I learnt history at school it was Kings, Queens, Castles and Medieval History so I have had to read more around the period and subject as I got older. I did actually make it a personal objective to read more around the first and second World Wars a few years back and the periods have stayed with me and I find I read a lot more now based in these eras.
It is four stars from me for this one, highly recommended and a must for anyone who has an interest in historical fiction books set within the period of World War II.