Today I have a review of Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris, available today from St. Martin’s Press.
I read and enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and I’ve been looking forward to its follow-up ever since I knew it was in the works.
Cilka was a character who inspired me in The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I knew she had a story to tell her of her own, and I’m so grateful Heather Morris wrote it.
Cilka is sixteen years old when she enters Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Schwartzhuber, the Commandant of Birkenau, immediately notices her long hair. He separates her from the other female prisoners. The power she receives from her position simply means survival for her.
Once the camp is liberated, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for her “relationship” with the Commandant and is sentenced to a work camp in Siberia.
Now in Siberia, Cilka is once again receiving unwanted attention of the guards. She makes a connection with a female doctor, and that relationship offers her some protection as she helps take care for the sick at camp. The conditions in Siberia, as one can imagine, are dire, and the climate is hostile for humans working in the elements.
If you are looking for a resilient, formidable female character, look no further. Cilka is a survivor in every sense. Her story highlights the experience of crimes against women during this already horrendous time period.
Overall, I found Cilka’s story inspiring and heartwrenching. The writing has a smooth flow, and the storyline is compelling throughout. I found the emotionality here easier to connect to than with The Tattooist, and to this emotionally-driven reader, that is a wonderful thing.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
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.