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Cilka's journey
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Library Journal Review
Based on real events, Morris's sophomore novel (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) follows a brave young Czech woman from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the gulag at Vorkuta, a Siberian prison labor camp. When the Soviets liberate Birkenau, they sentence 18-year-old Cilka Klein to 15 years hard labor for prostitution and espionage, though she was repeatedly raped by a German officer. En route to Siberia by cattle train, Cilka is fortunate to befriend Josie, who thereafter protects her like a sister. Cilka endures bitterly cold conditions with few provisions, repeated rape, and humiliation but forms a ragtag family with the 20 women of Hut 29. Haunted by the horrible years at Birkenau and the loss of her mother and sister, she longs for a better future. Offered a job in the hospital, she trains as a nurse under the tutelage of a compassionate Georgian volunteer, Dr. Yelena. As Cilka's responsibility grows, from the maternity ward, the infectious disease ward, and the ambulance, she feels purpose and contentment despite the horrors of the gulag where she will spend eight years. VERDICT Fans of Pam Jenoff will enjoy Cilka's incredible story of bravery and love.--Laura Jones, Argos Community Schs., IN
Publishers Weekly Review
In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story 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 secure an opportunity tending to the sick and malnourished within the camp. Morris weaves a fast-paced story that captures the immediacy of Cilka's duties caring for prisoners while appeasing guards at every step, but the brisk speed often papers over a lack of emotional depth and character development. Cilka and those around her respond with a positivity that feels unnatural. Even so, Morris's propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag. (Oct.)
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