Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Prisoner B-3087 - Alan Gratz

Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
Genre: YA, historical fiction
Published on March 1, 2013
Published by Scholastic Inc.
Pages: 272
Read From: 6.20.15 - 6.21.15

Survive. At any cost. 
10 concentration camps. 10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. It's something no one could imagine surviving. But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face. 
As a Jewish boy in 1930's Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner - his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087. 
He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. 
Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will - and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside? 
Based on an astonishing true story.


Dear Prisoner B-3087,
There was no question in my mind that you were going to be an incredible book. The Holocaust is a fascinating subject for me; I think it's something we should never ever forget - not only because we should honor the memories of those who died and survived, but also so it doesn't happen again. Given your rather simplistic narration style, I was at first confused because you were marketed as a YA novel. But you were one of the most brutal Holocaust books I've ever read.

You quite simply tell the true story of Yanek [?], a Jewish Pole growing up during the Nazi occupation. We follow Yanek as his family is taken away, and then finally he's taken away, too, and goes from one concentration camp to another, facing horror after horror and loss after loss. Your first-person narration is simplistic in style, but it is the simplicity of it that makes it so poignantly stark and gut-wrenching. Your narration doesn't even try to soften the brutality, and really that is the only way to tell a Holocaust story. There's no softening what happened.

Because you are based very heavily on a true story, you read very straight forward. However, emotion and personality are not sacrificed. I felt for the characters in this as much as I do for characters in longer, more in-depth novels. But that is partially because I knew they were based off of real people.

Like any good Holocaust story, you ripped my heart out. You were equal parts horrifying and equal parts inspiring. To think that someone could survive such an experience and still live afterward is incredible. You were a very quick read, Prisoner B-3087, but a very, very hard one, too.

Feeling emotional,
~ Mara A. ~

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