Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Prisoner B-3087 Review

Title:  Prisoner B-3087
Author:  Alan Gratz
Published March 1st 2013 by Scholastic Inc.

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.
Prisoner B-3087 is based on the true story of Jack Gruener.  The author, Alan Gratz, ficitionalized some of the events to, as he puts it in the book's afterword, "paint a fuller and more representative picture of the Holocaust as a whole," but the story of one young boy surviving 10 concentration camps is true. 

This book does indeed paint a full picture of the horrors of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of Yanek Gruener.  His life in Krakow, Poland was a happy one before the war, but at age ten Yanek's life would never be the same as Germany began its campaign to rid the world of those whom Hitler deemed unsuitable.  As the Germans swept across Europe, Yanek's father would always hope that the Allies would arrive before the enemy made it to Poland.  Unfortuately, this did not occur.  Yanek's whole family was taken away, and he was left alone for a time before he too was captured and sent to the first of ten concentration camps, Plaszow.  Surviving at Plaszow seemed, at times, impossible especially under the rule of Amon Goeth, an evil man who can be seen depicted in the movie Schindler's List.

By the time he was freed by the Allies, Yanek had endured six years of war, three of those years had been spent surviving ten different concentration camps and two death marches.  During this time, Yanek was also tattooed as B-3087.  Even though the Nazis tried to strip him of all his humanity, Yanek never gave up hope and the will to survive.

Yanek's story is a heartbreaking look at one of the most horrifying periods in human history.  Prison B-3087 will haunt you even after the final page has turned.

*reviewed by Casie, YA @ Cpl. J. R. Searcy Memorial Library

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