K 9 570L GLE 4.8
6. .25 PB G bumped, worn edges, name on page edge, crease on back cover, names in side front cover, light underlining L1 58/06/19 8x5.5
7. .50 PB G bumped, Oprah's Book Club L2 58/06/1 8x5.5
I seem to gravitate toward books related to the Holocaust, however demented that may be. It's not that I enjoy the suffering of others, its that I want to understand. I want to know how people can be so cruel and horrible to each other. I want to know how people can take that cruelty and keep taking it and taking it and taking it and still survive. And so I read holocaust books, and books that contain horrible atrocities and inhumanity and suffering.
I don't really know how to review this book. Honestly, I feel a little crappy for only giving it 3 stars... I feel like I'm discounting the author's suffering and the losses he and all Jewish people endured and the holocaust in general by not giving this book 5 stars. But that's not true, and it's not my intention to discount or downplay anything.
I think honestly it was the writing that did it. There were certain lines that moved me, and made me take a step back and say wow, but they were few and far between. Mostly I thought that the writing seemed very simple, to the point of being almost cold and distant. Perhaps it WAS cold and distant, and that the only way Wiesel could tell this story was to tell it this way. I can understand that, certainly, but I'd had such high expectations of this book that I'd expected to be a weeping puddle the entire time - yet I, the girl with the far, far too active empathy gland, didn't shed a single tear while reading this story. And that in itself is cause for me to worry, because I SHOULD have been a weeping puddle.
There didn't really seem to be anything humanizing here. Wiesel related his story, and told of the people who held out hope after hope alongside the people who would kill their own family for a scrap of bread alongside the people who just gave up. True, these are all human stories, but I couldn't identify with them or put myself in their place. It was just too distant and withdrawn from the personal story, and dwelt on the "...and then this happened..." method.
I do think that this is a book that everyone should read, however. Regardless of how distant the story feels, it does relate something of the horror that Jewish people had to contend with on a daily basis, and the constant fear that today would be their day to die. It also deals with faith in the light of such atrocities, and the loss thereof. I can understand that, I think, because it's hard to put your faith and love in a God that is exterminating your people, after thousands of years of persecution already. But genocide is faithless and faceless... it just is. And it should not be.
Anyway... I liked this book, but I wanted to love it. I wanted to feel like something had changed in me after I'd read it. I wanted this to be a book that would mark me. But sadly, it didn't. :(
It's hard to contribute anything original to the conversation about this book. Everything that has been said is true. It is heartbreaking and horrifying. It is written in sparse, simple prose, which sometimes makes it even more difficult to truly comprehend the atrocities that the book describes: "Yes, I did see this, with my own eyes . . . children thrown into the flames" (ellipses original). If the words were more flowery or burdened with tortured metaphor, somehow it would be easier to take it all in.
One of the things that struck me is that throughout the book, Wiesel noted that the people around him were in disbelief that something like this was truly happening. At the beginning of the book, the disbelief he describes seems to be at least somewhat genuine. By the end of the book, the instances that he points out are always noted to be some kind of coping mechanism - if we think this can't be happening, or that things will get better, we'll be prepared for the worst.
Yes, many of us are familiar with the atrocities of the Holocaust, and other genocides. Yes, we have an emotional reaction to what occurred. But this disbelief reminded me that the people who suffered in these camps were real human beings in the real world, not cardboard figures. They had the same emotions that we would have if something like this occurred in our community today. Night humanizes the Holocaust in ways that I had not encountered before.
If you should happen to be studying the Holocaust or are looking for some memoirs this would be the book I recommend for you. Truly haunting and powerful accounts of what happened inside a Nazi camp that will stay with you forever. You can order this book at the Colona Public Library. ~Ashley
Extremely eye-opening and heartbreaking. One of the most powerful stories I've ever read, hands down.