Reviewed by Martalisa Fischer
Imagine being uprooted from everything you’ve ever known and thrown, headfirst, into a place of absolute misery, where life has little to no value and the only thought is of surviving the night. This is the setting of The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, a novel based on the experiences of Edita Kraus in the Auschwitz family camp during the Second World War.
Dita Kraus had a happy childhood—until the Nazis came to Prague and forced the Jews to relocate to the Terezín ghetto. This is where her life begins to fall apart, but this is where the story begins. She and her family are transferred to the family camp in Auschwitz, and Dita is recruited by the head of Block 31, Fredy Hirsch, to take care of the few illegal books they have there. He and a few other brave adults turn Block 31 into a school, teaching children even though the Nazis forbid it. The book tells of the risks, and the dangers, and the absolute horrors Dita faces there on a daily basis.
This novel is a sobering account of events that can sometimes feel unreal and removed because we as readers cannot comprehend what those things must have felt like. I feel that, even though it is beautifully written and educational, and I would recommend it very highly, The Librarian of Auschwitz should only be read by those who are very mature and know that they can handle the graphic descriptions that the book contains.
Martalisa Fischer was a sophomore in the Gifted program at Hahnville High. She enjoys reading, writing poetry, and drawing the world around her. She sings in the Hahnville Ensemble and is active in the Fellowship of Christian Students club.
Editor’s note: Book reviews are published throughout the summer and fall in agreement with Hahnville High School gifted English teacher Deborah Unger in conjunction with the Brown Foundation Service Learning Program and Unger’s “Adolescents Advocate Literacy” Brown Service Learning Grant.