Lilac Girls- Book Review
Title: Lilac Girls
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Most of what I know about World War II is what I learned in school- mostly how the United States was involved and the gist of what happened. This book gave me a whole new perspective of the war, and how it affected people in different ways. I had never heard of Ravensbrück, and I wish that I had- these are the stories that need to be told.
It followed the perspective of three different characters: Caroline Ferriday, a New York socialite who works for the French Consulate; Kasia Kuzmerick, a polish teenager who is taken to Ravensbrück; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor who fully believes in the Nazi regime.
It is important to mention that Caroline Ferriday and Herta Oberheuser were real people- this book is based on a real story, and the Ravensbrück Rabbits were real. While Kasia is a fictional character, her experiences throughout the book were based on real people. It is a fictional retelling of historical events.
This book was hard to read- I read it with my book club (shout out to Jamie for recommending this!), and am glad that I got to message them upon finishing and talk about it, because it was emotional. The experiences that Kasia and the rabbits went through was so emotional.
There were 3 main characters in this book. Caroline Ferriday worked for the French Embassy, and was a complete humanitarian, working to help orphans displaced in France, and later, works to help those in concentration camps. She is strong and tough, but also feminine and insecure. All the characters in this book were complex, and I thought that Caroline was written very well (and from what I can tell, accurate to history).
Kasia was a polish teenager who started working for the underground, a polish organization to fight the Nazi regime. She was caught, and was sent to Ravensbrück along with her sister and mother. She learned how to survive there, eventually becoming one of the group known as the
‘Ravensbrück rabbits”, who were experimented on in the camp.
Herta Oberheuser was a German doctor who worked at Ravensbrück, performing the surgical experiments on Kasia and the other girls. She was a deplorable character, but her narrative added so much to the story, giving more background and a different perspective of the camp.
This book was extremely well researched and well written. You definitely take an emotional journey with these characters and see a glimpse into the world that they lived in. All of the characters were written as complex and dynamic, and brought light onto a story that needed to be told.
If you are interested in history, and World War II, or just want to get a better perspective on the atrocities that happened at concentration camps, you should definitely check out this book.