Over your life, you will read many books. You will never read another book quite like this. This is the book of pain, the book of suffering. You will...moreOver your life, you will read many books. You will never read another book quite like this. This is the book of pain, the book of suffering. You will never read a sadder book. It's about the Holocaust, and when you're reading it Mr Wiesel doesn't even have to give any emotion, like saying, "that night was the worst night of my life" or anything like that. He uses a very direct, almost reporter-like voice throughout the book. You can hardly believe the things that are happening in it until at some point or another it hits you, and you think, "oh, God, this book is a memoir! People were treated like that, tortured like that, but why?" This will be the most powerful, life changing, horrific, eye opening, tear jerking book you will ever read. It's one thing to read in the textbook about it, but another thing entirely to read the words written by an actual person. Someone who lived through it, through Buna, Auchwitz, and others. A person who was nearly burned alive, starved, frozen, beaten to death, but survived. A real person survived this horrific torture, and wrote a book about the pain and suffering to try in vain from keeping it from ever happening again. On a happier note, Wiesel won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work trying to stop genocide by informing people all around the world about the Holocaust and continues his work today.(less)
I remember reading this book about five or six years ago, as it was on a recommended books list, and loving it, and thinking it was the best book ever...moreI remember reading this book about five or six years ago, as it was on a recommended books list, and loving it, and thinking it was the best book ever written, and voting for it as the best book on the list.
I also remember immediately forgetting what it was about, except that it was narrated by a young girl who painted umbrellas (silk ones, too). And I remember remembering it about twice a year since I created my Goodreads account two years ago this month, and a few times before that. But then I'd just look at it and go "Oh right, that book. What was it about again? ... Well, I guess it doesn't matter anyway."
Well, I guess it does matter if I'm changing my rating policy so that next to nothing is rated five stars....
Thus, I checked the book out of the library and re-read it. It's a quick read (which I quickly remembered), especially since I'd already read the slim novel, 131 pages by my copy and with very large print and margins. True to my memory, it is indeed a good book, simply written with beautiful metaphors woven in.
The thing is, I don't think I understood most of the deeply thought-out metaphors. I don't remember the book being brilliant, I remember it being merely beautiful. The problem is, it's a simple book, simply written as if aimed at second-graders. The plot is slightly more engaging, also simple as it is told by an eleven-year-old who is moderately protected by her family and never really thinks for pages and pages or ages and ages, but older than the writing itself. There are money troubles, and the narrator's sister is sent to work at a factory. Noi--the narrator herself--worries that she, too, will be sent to the factory and won't be able to paint umbrellas like she's always wanted to. The grandmother gets sick. There are even a few mild arguments between relatives.
But there's nothing all that intense. Nothing supremely gripping.
It is a children's book, though. I can't honestly expect it to still hold the same kind of magic it did when I was its intended audience when the next book I finished was The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. I still felt the urge to dock a star, though, because while the book feels like it's written for a seven-year-old, it isn't really. A seven-year-old can like it, but they would most likely react the way I did--I love this book, because it's pretty. What next? And then forget about it. A seven-year-old wouldn't understand the metaphors the way someone older would.
Of course, any child about the age of five or so could read it just to enjoy it, or for school as I did, or even for a way to gently introduce a book where not everyone is happy with everything.
In conclusion: Beautifully written, but similar to a shallow pool in that it's very pretty and nice to cool off in, but don't try diving in or you'll end up whacking your head on the bottom.(less)