Hello week! Last week was full of travel to New Orleans to see my beloved Tigers play football. I ate too much, but walked a lot, and just being in Louisiana makes me feel like everything is all right in the world. Yes, we saw things I would rather not have, but overall Louisiana is my home and my heart. I will always belong there.
This week’s book is Mischling by Affinity Konar. Let’s go back to my post on Catherine Dior, and remember my mild preoccupation with Nazi Germany. In light of the latest news, I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not sympathize, agree with, or like anything to do with the Nazi party or regime. I do find their slow takeover of Europe and World War II fascinating. It’s such study of human psychology–what we will do to survive–and it’s incredible to me the stories of kindness and brutality that have come out of Nazism.
That said, Mischling (a German/Nazi word which means mixed heritage, especially concerning mixed Jewish heritage) is about two girls, twins, who are sent to Auschwitz, but because of they are twins, they are subjected to medical experiments and tests. At first this gives them a high status among the other prisoners and they are treated far better (which is why their mother initially “volunteers” them for the program and why others pretended to be twins so they might also get the benefits of being a medical prisoner). Soon it turns, and the experiments become more and more invasive, especially for one of the twins
The book is more historical fiction; many of the characters actually existed, including the infamous Josef Mengele. Many of his worst experiments are hinted at in the novel. But for all its horrors, there is a kindness, a hope, that allows the girls and their fellow prisoners to continue on.
In on of his psychological experiments, Mengele separates the girls to see how they will react and what they will do. They are still separated at the liberation of Auschwitz, with one twin not knowing if the other is even alive. I won’t give away the ending, but I love it.
I thought this book was well-researched, well-written and had very good character development. Definitely worth a read.
Next week’s book: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara