Thank You to Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an advanced copy of Affinity Konar's novel, Mischling, in exchange for an honest review.
PLOT- When twin sisters, Pearl and Stasha, arrive at Auschwitz, they are taken to "Mengele's Zoo", where Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele performs heinous experiments on his subjects. The sisters are kept in an area with other children who are either twins or triplets, and although they are given better food and accommodations that the other prisoners at Auschwitz, they are only kept as long as they are useful to Mengele. After months of surviving, Stasha fears that Pearl has died, when Pearl does not return from a round of experiments in Mengele's office. She still has not returned, when the Nazis, facing an imminent defeat, abandon the camp and force the prisoners on a death march away from Auschwitz. Will Stasha survive the march? Will she ever discover what happened to Pearl? Can she move forward with her life without her twin?
LIKE - I've been hearing so much praise for Konar's Mischling. It has consistently appeared at the top of many "2016 Best Books of the Year" lists. Admittedly, I didn't rush to request it on Netgalley, because of the subject matter, the horrific and detailed torture of children. It's upsetting, and horrifically, based on true events. Unimaginable. That said, I'm so glad that I requested Konar's profoundly affecting story.
The bond between Pearl and Stasha is the driving force of Mischling. These two main characters are warriors and their love radiates off the book. Their fight begins on the first page and this creates an intensity that carries through to the final sentence. Konar is masterful at character development, showing how the sisters undergo dramatic changes, forced to become more individual during their imprisonment and torture.
In addition to Pearl and Stasha, Mischling, has a memorable cast of secondary characters. The most heartbreaking is Miri, a Jewish doctor who Mengele forces to work along side him. Miri carries with her an extreme amount of guilt. She tries her best to help people, for example killing newborn babies in a compassionate manner, before Mengele can get his hands on them and inflict torture. Miri does her best to take care of the kids, patching them up and soothing them in the aftermath of the experiments. Yet, no matter how much good she tries to do, she is overwhelmed with her guilt. It's gut wrenching. Another memorable character is Feliks, a teenager who has lost his twin, and who has been so grotesquely injured, that he is nearly dead, yet he fights to keep Stasha safe. Feliks has an amazing spirit and fight within him. He keeps up hope, when hope seems surely lost.
DISLIKE- Nothing. Konar has written a powerful novel.
RECOMMEND- Yes!!! Mischling, should be on your must-read list. I can't imagine anyone reading, Mischling, won't feel completely shattered by the end of the journey, just know that the overriding message is one of hope and love.