I have checked this book out of the library several times and I finally have gotten around to reading it. I mostly had other books that maintained my...moreI have checked this book out of the library several times and I finally have gotten around to reading it. I mostly had other books that maintained my interest more. I wanted very much to like this book, as I tend to like reading non-fiction about the Holocaust and World War 2. This book approaches topics in the field I was less familiar with, specifically: the German occupation of Poland and the Warsaw Ghetto. Ackerman approaches subjects I am more familiar with: the history of zoos, zoo care, (having worked in a zoo myself) and the hiding of Jews during the Holocaust (having read the Diary of Ann Frank.
I feel like Ackerman took on too much subject matter to approach in this book. The information that she presented was scattered and I find her writing dry. Her approach to the book had given some charming stories in the portions of the book that I did read, however, with her writing style it certainly seems that she would be better writing a shorter piece, rather than a longer book.
In the Zookeeper's Wife, Ackerman had wanted to touch on a Polish zoo that was destroyed during the German airstrikes on Poland prior to their occupation. During the occupation, the family who owned the zoo lost the remaining animals in the zoo to German research or they were slaughtered on sight. Following this, the family began to take in Jewish families and hide them in the cages from the Nazis. It was this topic that I was interested in, and the reason why I had originally gotten the book out from the library. The downside was that she continuously strayed too much with the subject matter.
A lot of the information that she provided about the war, I felt was cliched and there were stories about the family or the neighborhood that didn't progress the topic line at all. She wrote about how the Nazis wanted to produce their own Aryan races with animals as well as humans and some animals that were confiscated from this zoo were sent to Germany to support that. I would have liked to known more about what the Nazis had done, to that contingent.
I found the book for the most part hard to follow because it was all over the place with no real drive. It was due at the library, and I had the option to renew it, but I wasn't so attached to it that I felt I should have renewed it, mostly because I didn't have a super strong interest in finishing the book. Ackerman had used quotes from family diaries, which may provide more information along the topics I have an interest in.
It seems like a lot of people did like this book, it was just hard for me to maintain an interest. I didn't love it after 150 pages, and didn't feel like it was going to improve over the next half of the book. I may try it again later, when I have less books on my library list now, which always seems to be a problem.(less)
I think this collection of stories is a mixed bag. I think the subject matter is important to bring about. It's hard to plug through these stories sub...moreI think this collection of stories is a mixed bag. I think the subject matter is important to bring about. It's hard to plug through these stories subject matter wise as well as language wise. I think it is extremely difficult to write on any matter concerning abuse, and Akpan's doesn't seem to impose the same sort of desire to want to change the affects of what is present in other war crime or abuse stories. He told you about the charachters, and the horrible situations they were in, but didn't seem to make you care about them enough to want go do something, which is too bad. I just had a hard time gaining and maintaining interest in the book.(less)
This book had some charming points to them. I really liked the sections with the deathless man. I liked the stories of the tiger's wife up to a certai...moreThis book had some charming points to them. I really liked the sections with the deathless man. I liked the stories of the tiger's wife up to a certain point. There was so much potential to this book, but I felt that to an extent, the story just got lost in everything that was trying to be presented. I don't want necessarily to have everything so neatly tied up, but the connections to the rest of the story at times really seemed far fetched. Some of them I just really didn't see the point of them and how they related to the rest of the book. I didn't like the Darisa the bear story. I don't think that it related to the rest of the story at all. I didn't like the overall idea of the story being rested on the "anywhere in the Baltics region".
Some of the zingers that I liked where the following:
"Crossroads are where the paths of life meet, where life changes. In their case it changes to death."
"Sometimes they are confused, unsure of where they are going. They drift naturally to their own bodies. And when they drift this way, I begin to gather them. "
"In the end, all you want is someone to long for you when it comes time to put you in the ground."
"...there are some stories you keep to yourself."(less)
I kept hoping this book would get better. Martel had done so well with Life of Pi, that the only thing that kept me going with this book was hoping th...moreI kept hoping this book would get better. Martel had done so well with Life of Pi, that the only thing that kept me going with this book was hoping that there would be some big charade at the end of the book, like in Life of Pie. This book ended up being a disappointment. I couldn't really fathom why he felt the need to take large chunks of Flaubert to add to what was already a short novel. I think the exchanges between Beatrice and Virgil at times were interesting, but the book was choppy and felt too forced at times. I didn't like the idea of including the creative process, mostly because I felt the storyline was lost in it.(less)
I'd certainly give this book a star and a half. I didn't like Jin's approach to the book, while I honestly believe this subject matter of this book is...moreI'd certainly give this book a star and a half. I didn't like Jin's approach to the book, while I honestly believe this subject matter of this book is extremely important, as most people don't know much about the massacres of the Chinese during World War 2.
I wanted to like this book. I found the book to be dry and lifeless. While by no means is the massacre of Nanjing during World War 2 a happy subject, I just felt that this story while historically accurate was far less passionate than other books written on the subject. It made me feel indifferent and bored as I progressed, which is what I'd really not like to feel on such a horrid subject. Make me angry, make me care, but don't make me put the book down and not want to finish it due to lack of interest in historical characters. Iris Chang took a far more passionate approach and it came out in her book. I feel like the book that Jin has written here, is based mostly on her research, which is disappointing. (less)
The book was well written, but a very slow read. I think it would have been a better book had he actually divided it into short story section of the c...moreThe book was well written, but a very slow read. I think it would have been a better book had he actually divided it into short story section of the characters rather than rotating through them each chapter.(less)