At fourteen years old, Dita is trying to adjust to life in Auschwitz as a Nazi prisoner when she’s approached by Fredy Hirsch. He is in possession of eight books, smuggled into the camp. To have them is illegal, and he wants Dita to be in charge of taking care of them. It puts her life on the line, in a place where life already means so little to those in power.
I love literature set during events of World War II and the Holocaust. It’s a period of time that has always torn at my heart and pulled at my interest. This novel is based on actual events from the life of Dita Kraus. Then, the fact that it was about books, too… I bought this book without a second thought. I wanted so much to love it, but I was disappointed.
While the story was moving along, it wasn’t bad. It held my interest and I wanted to know where it was going. The first problem came with the writing style. The original novel was written in Spanish, so I’m not sure if it’s with author or a result of the translation, but the writing felt like it was geared toward a younger audience than it should have been. It’s listed as juvenile fiction, but due to some language and adult themes I wouldn’t suggest it for younger than fifteen, and if felt like it was written for a younger age group at times.
My second issue came with the discussion of books. Iturbe often interrupts the flow of the story to describe the content of the books in the library, or books that Dita read before being sent to the camps. In some instances there are actual passages from other books. It really takes you of Dita’s story, and makes the book longer than necessary.
Dita’s story is definitely an interesting one, but I only got to page 124 before I decided it was taking me too long to get through it. Iturbe’s postscript is interesting, and he lists the resources he used for research. So, I may read more about this through those sources another time.
1) Overall Plot = 4
2) Characters = 3.5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 2.5
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4
5) Overall Enjoyability = 2.5
Average of score 3.3 out of 5