Monday, August 11, 2014

The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail

 Hanna Mendel was going to be a famous pianist. But the Nazis had another plan. Thrown into Auschwitz, she plays piano for a camp commandant and wears a dead girl's dress pinned with a yellow star. 
And she is falling in love - with the wrong boy.


Star Rating

I received this book from the publishers for an open and honest review.

With the recent commemoration of WW1 I was eager to read a book related to the war. I have always been interested in books, TV and film that depict the heartbreaking realities of war. This book by Suzy Zail focuses on a concentration camp in Auschwitz during WW2. 

The Wrong Boy tells the story of Hanna Mendel, a gifted pianist who finds herself  thrown into Auschwitz and separated from her parents. Hanna has a strong bond with her older sister Erika who struggles to survive the bitter cold and starving conditions. Thinking of her sister, Hanna auditions to become an in-house pianist for one of the camp's commandants and, in successfully getting the job, manages to steal some extra food for her dying sister. The relationship between the two girls was heart wrenchingly real and how I would hope my own sister and I would survive in a similar situation. 

The events that Suzy Zail writes about are incomprehensible and a terrifying reflection on the horrors of war. Although it is hard to imagine being in such a situation, Suzy Zail manages to write in a such a way that the reader almost feels they are there in Auschwitz witnessing these dreadful events for themselves. It is clear that WW2 is close to Zail's heart as her own father survived the Holocaust. Throughout the story there are many references to the lack of food amongst the camps, something that Zail's father must have remembered clearly. Although based on fictional characters, the story was entirely believable and reads as if it were a true account. 

As stated in the title and blurb, whilst working as a pianist for the commandant, Hanna slowly falls for the commandant's son who in all essences is 'The Wrong Boy'. Anyone who has read my other reviews will know that I am not a fan of fictional romances. Particularly young adult romances that appear from nowhere and form in the matter of minutes. Thankfully the relationship between Hanna and the commandant's son was not insta love and developed subtly and slowly as the story went on. Although a big part of the plot, this did not detract from the reason I wanted to read the book, which was not for romance but a powerful tale of the horrors of war. 

This book was easy to read, powerful and has left me wanting to watch a whole array of war films including The Pianist (one of the best war films out there.) A highly recommended and poignant read! 


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