Book Review: The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (4/5)

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The Wicked Girls is the story of two 11-year-old English girls who made a mistake one summer day. Annabel Oldacre and Jade Walker met that one day and killed a four-year-old girl. For the next 25 years, they lose contact and face the consequences of that mistake.

This thriller builds on a very gripping premise — it’s bold, fresh and shattering. Rehabilitated, hated and tortured, Annabel and Jade grow up into different lives. One becomes Amber, a cleaning manager who is something of a pushover with her employees and her boyfriend, Vic. The other becomes Kristy, a successful journalist with a caring husband and two kids. When Kristy the journalist comes to Amber’s town to investigate a string of murders, the two women’s lives collide.

And they know then how fragile these new identities they’ve created are. How the media could shatter and break everything they’ve tried to rebuild. How they can never run from their past.

To say the least, The Wicked Girls is gripping and emotional. Readers feel a great deal of sympathy for these two women. At the same time, I wish there had been more exploration of their emotions — it would have made the book even more deeper and heart-wrenching. I feel like a couple serious issues may have slipped away in the pacing of the thriller/mystery. The mystery, for me, was not really a mystery. I guessed/hunched right away at the twist.

This novel is something new and ventures thoughts onto a road not taken… It raises questions about children who commit crimes. Obviously Amber and Kristy are searching for redemption; in the end, I think they receive it, albeit in a different and bittersweet form. Life is never as sweet as fairy tales.

***ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for my review

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Book Review: Surviving the Angel of Death: The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri (3.5/5)

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Surviving the Angel of Death is the story of a Holocaust survivor, Eva Mozes Kor. At age 10, Eva and her twin sister Miriam become a set of Dr. Mengele’s experimental “twins.” In the hopes of making an important scientific discovery, Dr. Mengele performs horrifying experiments on twins, dwarfs, gypsies and the handicapped. Upon arrival at the concentration camp Auschwitz, the Nazis separate 10-year-old twins Eva and Miriam from the rest of their family. Weakened with unsanitary conditions, humiliation, abuse, famine, and the unspeakable atrocities of Dr. Mengele’s experiments, Eva and Miriam swear to survive.

 When Dr. Mengele injects the sets of twins with different viruses and diseases, Eva falls sick. At the weakest point in her life, she is left to die in the infamous “Infirmary.” Denied medicine, care and water, Eva relies on her inner courage and love for her sister, Miriam.

 As a story and memoir, Surviving the Angel of Death is heartrending, tragic and full of hope.  While it’s written for the YA audience, I believe the writing style and voice might be more appropriate for children. The book isn’t exactly written as a “novel” with scenes…I do wish it was written differently. The book consists of mostly “telling” rather than “showing” – more remembrances than detailed “scenes”. But that doesn’t make it less touching. Told from the viewpoint of a once-feisty 10-year-old, Surviving the Angel of Death stirs our hearts and souls. We can only hope that Eva’s personality and determination survives the horrors she and Miriam endure.  

 I commend Eva Mozes Kor for having the courage to tell her story, to revisit the memories inflicted upon her 10-year-old self, and finally, to forgive. The Holocaust is a terribly inhumane chapter in the history of humanity – but it will always a part of our collective history. Something that should never be forgotten. And Surviving the Holocaust cements this chapter of history in the voice of a 10-year-old survivor.