Title: Cilka's Journey

Author: Heather Morris

Published: October 2019

Genres: Historical Fiction/World War II




In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.

Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis--with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.


TAY'S REVIEW   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cilka Klein had passed away before Heather Morris started exploring her story, so this work was based on documentary research, and speaking to those who knew her, like Lale Sokolov. Having loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz so much, the anticipation for a “sequel” as such was real! I was so happy that it lived up to my expectations. It’s surreal to think that the horrors that Morris writes of in this book were lived through by hundreds of thousands of prisoners only 80 years ago, and that there are survivors still here with us today. As the world moves on and the tragedies of World War II sink further into our past, its exposure to our youth almost becomes non existent. I can’t begin to articulate how necessary I think it is to remind ourselves of what happened at camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau; of the cruelty and of the dread, and of the gross loss of life. Particularly as prejudice is still rife in so many aspects of our world today. There was so much to admire about Cilka. Her character was so often driven by her strength, intelligence and compassion. The spirit of this story is about hope and survival. It was truly a pleasure to read.


NICKY'S REVIEW   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Full disclosure: by the time I had read this book, I had heard a lot of commentary around its inaccurate representation of facts. However, in the spirit of the novel, I took it as a work of fiction based on real events, as opposed to a work of non fiction. I grew quite attached and fond of Cilka’s character, and following her journey from being sent to a camp at aged 16, and just 3 years later, being sentenced to imprisonment. With each different stage/chapter of her journey, Cilka’s strength and resilience shines through all of the loss and suffering. Irrespective of what is fact, and what is not, I think it is up to the reader what they take away from this novel. Personally, I find solace in the fact there is now one less untold story, and more so, one of a fierce determination to survive and the triumph of the human spirit over brutality and cruelty.

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