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The Red Ribbon

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  2,874 ratings  ·  504 reviews
Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birken
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 21st 2017 by Hot Key Books
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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Birchwood - more commonly known as Auschwitz, is where we meet 14 year old Ella, starting her first day as a seamstress in The Upper Tailoring Studio, making beautiful dresses for Officers wives and female Guards.

Ella was snatched from the streets on her way home from school. She was walking in the gutter at the time, because as a Jew she wasn't allowed to walk on the pavement. In Auschwitz she is a non - person - insignificant, names are not allowed, everyone is identified by a number. She soon
Miriam Smith (A Mother’s Musings)
"The Red Ribbon" by Lucy Adlington was a truly eye opening read, which I'm not sure if 'enjoy' is the right word but I thoroughly devoured this book in a day and found it a very emotional but enjoyable read. Knowing nothing about the seamstresses of Auschwitz or even that clothes were made for the Officer's wives and female guards of the camp I was very intrigued by this and quite surprised that this even happened.
Although this is not a truly harrowing book it does still get the facts across dur
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly wonderful, The Red Ribbon is the story of the friendship between 2 teenage girls who worked in the dress shop at Birkenau. It is not based on any true story, but incredibly there was a haute couture factory shop there for the commandant's wife and female guards. The prisoner guards chose only the best seamstresses and created gorgeous dresses, all the while being starved, tortured, and beaten.

There is so much love and beauty in this story that it is hard to believe it takes place in such
Ruby Granger
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful tale of friendship, kindness and love within the harrowing camp of Aushwitz-Birkinau.
I really love reading Holocaust literature -- I think that we have a duty to at least TRY and understand what happened in the second world war. We need to try our best to empathise, despite the fact that this not only seems but IS impossible.
We never learn how old Ella is because she lies about her age, but she is a young (under 16) Jewish girl with a passion for dressmaking. After securing a job i
Alice-Elizabeth (Prolific Reader Alice)
The Red Ribbon is an emotional, poignant and incredibly well-written YA Historical Fiction that I was just looking for. Set during the end of WW2, in the concentration camp Birchwood, it follows two young girls called Rose and Ella. Both have been arrested and start work in the tailoring workshop controlled by Marta, brutal and angry. Ella has a passion to have her own dress making shop but with no freedom, that is only a dream. She and Rose cross paths with Carla, a guard who looks nice but has ...more
Hadas Tsury
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sad and touching. Very well written.
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book reviews on

The Red Ribbon is a touching, emotional and shocking story, set in the concentration camps of WW2, but showing a different side of the camps. Not a nicer side, mind you, but definitely a little different to what we often read about or see in films – I knew nothing about the seamstresses and clothing studios of WW2 concentration camps before I read this novel.

The story centers around Ella, who has just started a new job at a sewing studio – in Auschwitz. It’s a
Kirstie Ellen
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a review copy for this in exchange for an honest review!

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing
This was seriously fantastic. It was not at all what I expected going into it as the blurb is fairly mysterious but oh wow, this blew me away. I can't recommend this book enough; if you've read or heard of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas then by golly you should be reading this one. Fantastic protagonist, fantastic story, unique perspective.

The Red Ribbon
This book w
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From beginning to end, and everything in between, The Red Ribbon is truly unforgettable. It’s nurtured with a sensitivity and thoughtfulness that encourages hope, even in the darkest of places. The contradiction of captives wearing their shapeless, faded uniforms while sewing exquisite clothes to adorn their captors provides an opportunity for both admirable and shameful attitudes to surface.

Chapter headings of specific hues emphasise the stark contrast to the otherwise colourless and heart-wre
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I think WWII books are very important to read and I don't find myself reading them often even though I have a few on my shelves. This one, unfortunately, was just okay for me. I read it in two months (well, I started it in October then put it down for two months before finishing it) and that's because this story didn't interest me all that much. I was a little bored to be honest. There were moments I liked reading it but most of the time I was reading it because I had to.

I did find the story to
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading Red Ribbon because I found many things that were the same in Red Ribbon, that was a long time ago the same things in my own childhood.
I related to the girls working on the sewing machines. My aunt used to work in a very small place sewing baby bibs and rubber pants.The scene in Red Ribbon about Grandma's house stunk of fish for days after, brought back my own memories. When I used to stay with my nan we visited my great Nan taking her kippers. It's strange because I now clearly
(I got this book free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.)

I normally really like books on the Holocaust but I can’t say I liked this one much. The author basically tried to write a heartwarming story set in Auschwitz and I don’t really think that’s possible; the result felt sappy and fake.

Calling the place Birchwood instead of Birkenau confused me, and it was never made clear where the characters were from (except for Rose, I’m guessing “City of Light” meant Paris) or what language(s) they were s
Absolutely stunning - one of the best books I've read in ages. If you ever doubted the importance of clothing - as I have - this will make you question that; in Birchwood, the Stripeys are stripped when they arrive. Everything is taken from these women; their clothes, their hair, their dignity - but they do their best to hold onto their humanity and sense of self, in whatever way they can.

Ella is a talented seamstress and along with Rose who becomes her best friend she uses her talents in the s
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lucy Adlington's 'The Red Ribbon' is a very worthy addition to the canon of young adult Holocaust novels and it well deserves its place alongside 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas', 'The Book Thief' and the Morris Gleitzman trilogy.

It concerns a group of women inmates at Auschwitz who are deployed as clothes makers and is narrated by a young Jewish lady who is deported there in the latter years of the war.

I had heard of the musicians of Auschwitz before but not the clothiers although as someone w
When I first started reading this book, I had forgotten that it was about the Holocaust. It read, if you didn't know better, like a future dystopia, where children were grabbed off the street and forced to work at whatever they could, in a place away from the rest of the world.

Part of this is sort of on purpose, because to make us truly see how horrible this is, the author always refers to Birkenau as Birchwood, which is the translation of the word into English. She refers to Paris as the City o
Sandra "Jeanz"
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing

So approaching this book I wasn't sure what to expect, I was hoping for a personal level story not just a retelling of the atrocities. I personally think that the Holocaust is something that should never ever be forgotten. I have read a few books, both fiction and non fiction that are set in this era of history. This book is actually based on facts though it is a work of fiction as are the people portrayed in it. It brings home to you that those horrific acts were carried out on normal peo
"The Red Ribbon" is an excellent ya novel covering some of the lesser known aspects of life in concentration camps. It also presents several types of "prisoners" not often covered. The brutality is not withheld and the harsh truth of what it took to survive is on full display. My heart was broken several times throughout, and I feel like I learned quite a bit. Highly recommended.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
Christina Reid
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
What a beautiful, bleak, heartbreaking yet hopeful story. Should be required reading. Full review to come!
Heather Copping
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2, read-in-2017
Firstly I thought the cover of this book is much nicer than the picture online, as you read it you will find pictures of pins, buttons, scissors etc printed on the pages which at first I did find a bit off-putting, but after a while I was fighting my emotions as I did find this book to be quite disturbing and depressing, it's a sad story with its talk of subhuman people, chimneys, ash and red flames, even the hospital was described as the waiting room for the end! The main character is fourteen ...more
Karen Pratt
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant book - so easy to read, well written story and wonderful characters which made me enjoy it all the more.
HOPE - this is the keyword and you needed plenty of it in the horrific place these characters found themselves to be a part of.
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
*4.5 stars*

"How long would she wait?
Until I got back, of course."

Oh my goodness. This was an incredible, very sad, and eye opening book. It's so easy to forget the true harshness and vileness of human history - and the cruelty wasn't that explicit in this book, which almost made it worse.

The main character, Ella, is so naive and innocent at the beginning that it breaks my heart. The author managed to wrap up the hatred and confusion and injustice that all the prisoners of auschwitz must have fel
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5⭐️read! I’d never heard of this book, but it was selected as this month’s book group choice and I’m very glad it was.

This is a brilliantly written mix of fact and fiction set during the Holocaust, about 14 year old girls Ella and Rose (and friends) in one of the most infamous death camps during the 2nd world war.

Very few books make me openly emotional, this is one of them.
This is a wonderful blend of fact and fiction, detailing some of the on-goings during 1944-45 from the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp complex. It mostly focuses on Ella, a young girl who is working as a dressmaker in a clothing factory in Birchwood (Birkenau). We see Ella's journey from the moment she arrives at Birchwood, through to her struggles to stay alive but also her internal battle to decide what she should, or shouldn't, do for others.

For me what was most interesting is that thi
Alyson Stone
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, history, world-wars
Book: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher, Hot Key Books, for providing me with this ARC.

Okay, this one has been compared to the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I have never read. The Red Ribbon is set at Auschwitz, which is one of the worst concertation camps. Ella has found herself a job there-as a seamstress. Finding a job is about the only way she can stay alive; I think we all know what happens to those who canno
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Red Ribbon is a painfully gorgeous story that demands to be heard. It ripped me apart and threaded me together with a new perspective by the end. I will never think of clothes the same way again.

Set in the Auschwitz concentration camp near the end of WWII, 14-year-old Ella dares to dream and create beauty in the ugliest place in history. Tenacious, intelligent, courageous, and passionate, Ella is endearing and inspiring as she withstands her harsh environment sewing high fashion clothing for
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-fiction
This is a really good read from a historian. It is set in a place called Birchwood, which we soon find out is Ellie's name for Auschwitz. (it's literal translation). Ellie works in the sewing centre in Birchwood making dresses for the female guards and once for the Commandant's wife. Unbelievably, such a place did exist there. But Ellie's life goes from bad to worse. This is a story told from a child's eyes, but full of historical detail. Never too graphic to give to a child, but written sensiti ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I really enjoyed this book, it deals with an incredibly sensitive topic extremely well. It is perfectly pitched for middle grade and above. The characters are believable but a little underdeveloped, I thought. However, I think the author has created an incredible story and I would highly recommend. Have already passed it on for others to read.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 STARS!

Four of us: Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends. But this was Birchwood.

This book guys.. 😭

I won a copy of this book via Readers First and I wish I got around to this sooner!

It’s a YA, Historical Fiction which is set back when WW2 was happening, however we see the concentration camps. The Red Ribbon is a mix of truth and fiction, Lucy Adlington tells us in the afterword that it is based in a real place ‘Birchwood’ which she translated from Birkena
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington, 264 pages. Candlewick, 2018. $18.

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mentions of deaths and cruelty, nothing graphic)



One moment Ella was walking home from school, the next she has been rounded up by the Nazis because of her yellow star and transported to the concentration camp Birkenau, or Birchwood, as the author calls it. Luckily she is a superb seamstress and is able to get a
Erin Cataldi
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Sometimes I steer away from Holocaust fiction because there is so much of it and sometimes it's too much to take in. It's like reading misery porn and at a certain point you have to take a breather. The Red Ribbon is a young adult novel that focuses on a little known bit of Auschwitz lore, the sewing studio. The commandant's wife is a fashionista and she decides that she may as well put some prisoners to work crafting her stylish new outfits and tailoring her clothes. The officer's wives get jea ...more
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I am fascinated by the stories clothes can tell about the people who made, sold and wore them.
My latest non-fiction book is 'The Dressmakers of Auschwitz', revealing the lives and fates of a remarkable group of mainly Jewish women who sewed to survive in a fashion salon established by the camp commandant's wife. It has been a privilege to bring these stories into the light.
'Women's Lives & Clothe

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“You don't have books?!' Rose almost sat up and banged her head on the roof rafters. That made the rats jump. 'How can you live without reading?'
'Pretty well so far.' I laughed. 'Stories are just made-up stuff anyway.'
'Says who? I think they're a different way of telling the truth.' Then, 'Seriously - no books? Oh, Ella, you have no idea what you've been missing! Stories are food and drink and life...I mean, haven't you heard the story about a girl who made a gown out of starlight?'
'A gown out of starlight? How could you even do that...?'
'Well,' said Rose. 'Once upon a time...'
And that was that. No sleep for me till Rose wrapped up with a triumphant The End.”
“You've got to cram it into your thick heads: the sickos that sent us to this place are so stuffed with hate they've got to spew it out on someone, it almost doesn't matter who. If it's not one race, face or religion it'd be another. Right now it's us they vomit on. Next war it'll be some other poor beggars, then some others, then -'
'I want to go home!' the poor woman gasped, in between shakes and sobs.
'And I want to murder every last beast in this hellhole with my bare hands,' Girder raged. She had hands as big as dinner plates. 'The best we can do instead is live. Are you listening? The only way to beat them is by not dying. So shut up and survive, you miserable cow. And let the rest of us sleep.”
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