The Librarian of Auschwitz (Review)

Another tale of the the one of the most horrifying event in human history, told from a new perspective. As the librarian of Block 31 Dita is in charge of a small collection of books that they use to teach the young children of the camp and allow them to continue to learn as well as distract them from the horrifying things happening all around them. Books are banned in these concentration camps and if someone is caught with one they would be killed on the spot, so Dita is risking her life everyday. She does it not for herself but for everyone in the camp who finds any sense of comfort through these books.

The book was written by Antonio Iturbe with help from real-life accounts from Dita Kraus on whom the story focuses. The story is historically accurate with liberties taken to make a coherent storyline that the reader would be able to follow along with. The author worked together with Dita to collaborate on something that bridged the gap between fiction and non-fiction, which is why I kept turning the pages even through the slow and prodding sections of the book. I felt at time the story slowed to a halt and could have been trimmed down to avoid some of these lulls. Another complaint of mine would be that I didn’t feel much passion through the writing when I feel like passion should have rang loudly throughout the book through either Dita’s love for friends and family or for her love of the books.

The story felt disjointed largely due to the way the perspective changed at the drop of a hat. Iturbe wrote from the point-of-view of many different people throughout this story and while that did let us see what was going on in multiple parts of the camp, it often led to confusing sections where you aren’t sure who is doing what. I would’ve almost rather have read a collection of thoughts and short stories from Dita herself rather than having this presented in a pseudo-fictional story as it was, but I see why they chose to go this way as it becomes an easier to read book.

What I did enjoy was the story and the perseverance of Dita and her family and friends. Wanting to know how Dita lived through these horrors is ultimately what kept me reading to the very end. There are obviously other more well known and classic stories of the Holocaust, but another story from a very different perspective is always welcome and I recommend anyone that is interested in this dark event to read this haunting story of hope.

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