Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lilac Girls

Book: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. -Goodreads

Review: Lilac Girls is a WWII historical fiction novel which follows three women: Caroline Ferriday, a retired actress and NY socialite who does a lot of work for French orphans, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teen working with the resistance movement and Herta Oberheuser, the only female Nazi medical doctor. Kasia eventually finds herself imprisoned at Ravensbruck where she becomes a 'rabbit.' Rabbits were subjected to horrifying surgeries in the name of medical research, while Herta was one of the doctors within the camp. 

I read another book that incorporated the abject horror of what the rabbits were subjected to and it was no less horrifying here. While I found all of the narratives interesting and the book well written, I felt no emotional connection to any of the characters (there were no tears shed). Upon finishing the book, I read the author's note and was shocked to find out that Caroline Ferriday and Herta Oberheuser were real people. And the character of Kasia was based off of a real rabbit, Nina Ivanska. This lead me to pull up articles on the actual people and read up on them. 

Overall-this was a well written, interesting and horrifying read yet I lacked a connection to the characters. 

Grade: 3/5

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