Author: Elie Wiesel
Published: Originally in 1960 by MacGibbon and Kee
My Rating: 4 stars
Tags: Nonfiction | Memoir | Holocaust | Concentration Camps
Includes: Violence, Profanity, Murder/Death
First Lines: They called him Moche the Deadle, as though he had never had a surname in his life. He was a man of all work at a Hasidic synagogue.
The reason I read this book was for my English class, since practically every year we seem to only read depressing war and Holocaust books - a trend I've noticed. I'll have to grade and review this book differently than all the others since it's a nonfiction memoir and not YA, unlike all of the other books I read and review.
This haunting memoir is written from Elie's point of view as a teenager who survived life in the concentration camps during the Holocaust. His story is a powerful one that I'll remember for years to come. In previous years, I've had to read many other Holocaust books, so I was already aware of what life was like back then for the Jews. However in this memoir, Elie mentions things that we never learned in school and it was a big eye-opener for just how deranged the Nazis treated the Jews. It was almost unbelievable of how cruel and harsh they acted.
From page 3
Without passion, without haste, they slaughtered their prisoners. Each one had to go up to the hole and present his neck. Babies were thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets.
The actual story didn't provide many details, and even though it would have made the book more clear and easy to understand, I think it would've made it too depressing to read. So even though the memoir is vague, it's a good insight overall of what life was like for Elie. There are some touchy subjects mentioned, and the reader gets inside the writer's head, which I liked. There are moments in the story where Elie would get selfish thoughts in his head, like maybe if his father died it would let himself be able to eat twice the amount of food...and then he would quickly feel guilty for even thinking that. I think these thoughts were very significant because it showed how messed up the prisoners minds would become, living in these horrible concentration camps. They weren't even the same people anymore. Another point to mention is how quickly these religious groups of people would turn from their faith in God. Even the Rabbi admits to Elie that he believes that there is no God anymore.
From page 51
"It's the end. God is no longer with us. I know. Man is too small, too humble and inconsiderable to seek to understand the mysterious ways of God. But what can I do? I'm just an ordinary creature of flesh and blood. I've got eyes, and I can see what they're doing here. Where is the divine Mercy? Where is God?"
Elie changes throughout the story and matures rapidly. It was really interesting reading about the sorts of work that the SS would put them through, and how easily they could get killed from the littlest things. Many discussions could be brought up from this book, which I think is why it's included in English at school. Unlike many of the other books we read in class, I honestly enjoyed this one and would recommend it.