MISCHLING is a deeply moving story of twin girls who live to tell their story of Auschwitz. The twins, Pearl and Stasha, are chosen early for Josef Mengele‘s evil experiments on twins. Mischling is the term used during the Third Reich to characterize those who have both Aryan and Jewish blood. The twins are two half’s to a whole and they are young, very young in the beginning of this story. They don’t mature properly throughout their time in “the zoo”, the name for the place they are held. The girls decide to divide their sufferings.
“Stasha would take the funny, the future, the bad. I would take the sad, the past, the good.”
Without telling too much, the author manages to describe the horrors of living in the zoo. The girls are childlike in the interpretations of reality. Half of this story is the girls in the zoo, and the other half is them after liberation. The author drops glimpses into their future as they travel through Poland in a mission back to living.
Mischling is told by both girls who experience different things. This story is horrifying but it offered so much hope. I am still in shock that I didn’t cry in the reading of this. I was deeply moved and have told anyone willing to listen about the twins. We can never forget the atrocities of WWII.
Josef Mengele did unspeakable things to twins and triplets during the war. Most of these details are left out and the reader is left to their imagination. There were little glimpses of hope even in the zoo for the girls. There are bonds with other patients and a few good people who help to try and heal the hurts thrust upon them. Once the girls are separated the story dives into something of longing. For one there is a long road to recovery, for the other there is trying to live again without their twin.
I will admit that the prose and tone was unique. This story won’t be for everyone. The girls have a fantastical view and interpretation of their world. I was riveted reading this story. It wasn’t as horrifying as some stories I would relate to watching a car accident, it was listening to a child tell you about it. Very sad but also full of hope and wonder. These girls told me a story about how they divided and then came together to overcome their worst experiences. I will never forget the story of these girls.
This isn’t an easy read. MISCHLING it is a coming of age like not other. I would highly recommend this to historical fiction and young adult readers.
Mischling by Affinity Konar
Published by Lee Boudreaux Books on September 6th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Jewish
ARC provided by BEA 2016, Hatchette Books
A New York Times Notable BookAn Amazon Best Book of the YearA Barnes & Noble Discover PickAn Indie Next PickA Publishers Weekly Best Book of the YearOne of the 21 Must-Read Books for Fall--ElleOne of the 21 Incredible Books You Need to Read This Fall--BuzzfeedA Most-Anticipated Book of Fall 2016--Wall Street JournalA Fall 2016 Must-Read Novel--Entertainment Weekly"One of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year" (Anthony Doerr) about twin sisters fighting to survive the evils of World War II.
Pearl is in charge of: the sad, the good, the past.
Stasha must care for: the funny, the future, the bad.
It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.
As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.
That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks--a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin--travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.
A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, MISCHLING defies every expectation, traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.