Book Review: Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

Title: Cilka's Journey
By: Heather Morris
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary from Goodreads: From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience. 

Her beauty saved her life - and condemned her. 

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.

After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child? 

In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

Review: Take a deep breath and try not to cry. This story picks up after WW2 has ended. Cilka has been charged with spying for the Germans and is being shipped off to a prison camp in Siberia. What Cilka has to go through in her short life is so painful to read. She survived Auschwitz by being raped by the Germans, she was sentenced as a traitor and then to top it all off, raped again in the prison camp. Cilka is just trying to survive, but her humility and compassion toward the people around her, in the same situation as her was incredible. I would imagine someone like that would be hardened to the world, but not Cilka. She gave away her chance of freedom so a friend could survive. 

I read this book in one day. Couldn't put it down. This was a powerful story that needs to be read.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

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