Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Favorite Memoir

We've had a lot of memoirs on this blog up for review, so I thought it was about time that we told you what our favorite memoirs are.

I've mentioned this book more than a few times on this blog, but I feel like it bears mentioning again.  Holocaust stories are usually really depressing, and while I wouldn't immediately throw this one into the uplifting category, it certainly is a lot more hopeful than most of them.  Also, it's not strictly a Holocaust story.  Ligocka was extremely young when the Nazis came into her country (as you can tell if you know anything about her.  She is the famous splash of color in Spielberg's Schindler's List.)  She was only about 5-8 when the war was going on.

It continues into her teen years when she's living in the USSR and all the horrors she has to face as things go from hopeful under Lenin, to dangerous and scary under Stalin.  It's like she could never really escape the horrors.  I like it because we tend to focus on the Holocaust so intently and forget that places like Poland were almost immediately plunged into the Cold War.

It's also well written, honest, beautiful and just so heartfelt you can't help shedding a little tear at the end.

Hey look, my favorite memoir is also from the Holocaust! I read Night in 8th grade English class, and I loved it. I liked the way Wiesel described things (from his fond memories of early childhood to the unspeakable horrors he endured and witnessed). That's really what my enjoyment of the book boils down to: Wiesel's description and explanation, which is simple and straightforward. He doesn't flower things up, or exaggerate. (Really, I don't think Auschwitz calls for exaggeration; it was bad enough as it was.) And I may just be attributing the feelings I got from learning about the Holocaust for the first time to Wiesel's writing, but I don't think anything in a book has chilled me as much as reading the phrase "arbeit macht frei" in his introduction to Auschwitz. I think he did a good job of making it feel real and hit home, and that's what a good book about a bad thing should do.

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