Saturday, April 6, 2013

Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz

Barnes & Noble

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

I feel awful rating a person's memoirs so low, but not as bad as I'd feel if Jack Gruener -- the protagonist -- had written it himself.  Especially since this is actually historical fiction, NOT what happened to him.

The book reads like an oral retelling of events: this happened, then this, then the next thing. While that works for a speech, it doesn't come across well as written text. I'm usually an emotional basketcase when reading accounts from WWII, but I only teared up once during this book. Were I listening to Mr. Gruener personally recount his years in the concentration camps, I'm sure I'd be a blubbering mess.

I'm glad that I read this book; I just wish it had evoked some stirring of emotion other than "eh."

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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