by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 / 5
Elie Wiesel’s account of his time in death camps during WWII is told simply, without unnecessary prose. As a teenager in an unthinkable situation, Wiesel clung to his father, while losing all faith in his God. One of the things that strikes me most after reading this book is the constant uncertainty the author and his fellow Jews were faced with—will it really get that bad before the war ends? Are the rumors we’re hearing of camps true? Where are we going? What will happen when we get there? Which is better, left or right? To stay with family or to go where directed? To fight to survive or to let it be over? To join the evacuation march or to be left behind in the hospital? Not that this hasn’t all come up in other Holocaust books I’ve read, but for whatever reason it stuck out more to me in this book. That Wiesel was struggling to come to terms with what happened to him and millions of others even in the writing of this book is evident, and it certainly makes the memoir raw and personal.
Reading this book was one of my earliest exposures to the horrors of the Holocaust, as I’m sure I read it around high school age. I even found a couple of notes that I’d written in the book back then, which I don’t remember doing. While there are a lot more books out there about the Holocaust, both fiction and non-fiction, than there were when this was first published, I think it is a classic in the genre, and a good starting point for anyone newly diving into the genre.
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If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!