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Summary

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.

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.

©2016 Affinity Konar (P)2016 Hachette Audio USA

Critic reviews

"The sheer beauty of the language in Mischling is one of the things that makes the book unlike most other Holocaust novels." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Fiction of rare poignancy - and astonishing hope.... An unforgettable sojourn of the spirit." ( Booklist)
"Konar makes every sentence count; it's to her credit that the girls never come across as simply victims: they're flawed, memorable characters trying to stay alive. This is a brutally beautiful book." ( Publishers Weekly)

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Holocaust tale that didn't work for me

I have read a lot of holocaust fiction & non fiction and really wanted to love this. It tells the fictional story of twin girls and their journey to Auschwitz and beyond. The descriptions of the camp, activities, hardships and cruelty is offset by friendships & the child's need to see the best in even the worst circumstances. It's not badly written either, and the prose is often poetic. However I just didn't enjoy it. With the twins sharing alternating points of view, it was difficult to remember which twin was speaking. The narrator didn't distinguish between the two but came across as if reading the story rather than narrating it. The pace was slow and I didn't care what happened, mostly because I didn't care about the characters and found it all too confusing. It tries too hard to be arty and maybe would work better in paperback.