Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: October 1st, 2019
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction
Series: The Tattooist of Auschwitz
The Tattooist of Auschwitz—Book 1
Cilka’s Journey—Book 2
From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, comes the new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.
Her beauty saved her life – and condemned her.
Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, in 1942. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival.
After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to Siberia. But what choice did she have? And where did the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was sent to Auschwitz when still a child?
In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she makes an impression on a woman doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing. Cilka begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.
Cilka finds endless resources within herself as she daily confronts death and faces terror. And when she nurses a man called Ivan, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.
Cilka stares at the soldier standing in front of her, part of the army that has entered the camp.Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris
I usually do not read books that are based on real events. I have found that my knowledge of the event overshadowed the book. I couldn’t help but compare what happened to what was going on in the book. I would almost always end up disappointed in the book. Then I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which is the first book in this series. I was taken away by Lale’s story. Cilka was introduced in this book. She was a mysterious and enigmatic character. I wondered what happened to her at the end of the book. What I read in Cilka’s Journey broke my heart.
Cilka was a child when she caught the attention of The Commandant. Which sickened me in the first book. In this book, I was still sickened. What he did to Cilka in those years was heartbreaking. But, it was what happened after Auschwitz was released that broke my heart.
Cilka was found to be a Nazi collaborator because the Russian Army found out that she was sleeping with The Commandant. Instead of earning her freedom, she was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in Siberia. I was outraged when I read that. She was traumatized at a young age, forced to watch friends and family die/killed, and then, instead of being able to heal, she was retraumatized on top of that.
I know that I am making a big deal about Cilka’s age in this book. She was 16 when she was sent to Auschwitz. She was around 20 when she was sent to Siberia. She suffered trauma after trauma in Auschwitz. So, yes, I was shocked when the Russian Army sent her to Siberia. She was forced to do what she had to survive, which mean becoming a camp wife of a soldier. I can’t tell you how that affected me. The abuse shook me. She suffered in both places. There were points where I wanted to hug her, take her away, and get her therapy.
The prison camp in Siberia was as bad as Auschwitz. But, and stress this, the prisoners could leave, if they survived to the end of the sentences. It was an awful place to live. Disease and violence were rampant. To my knowledge, I don’t think that I have read a book that takes place in one. I have heard of them and have seen them mentioned in books.
Cilka’s Journey was not an easy read. There were times I had to put the book down and walk away because I was that disturbed by it. The emotional impact that it had on me lasted days after I read it.
The end of Cilka’s Journey was informative. The author included a note about Cilka and her life after the prison camp. While the characters portrayed in the prison camp were fictional, the camp itself wasn’t. The author explained what happened to it and when it closed down.
I would give Cilka’s Journey an Adult rating. There is sex. There is mild language. There is graphic violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread Cilka’s Journey. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**