Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Guest Book Review: I Have Lived a Thousand Years

Today, I'm posting a book review written by a bright, hard working BYU-Idaho student named Spencer Holm. The book he reviews is I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson. It's a work of non-fiction, a harrowing account of a holocaust survivor, which seems fitting given that we're currently reading The Book Thief.

Thanks, Spencer, for this well-written review:

"I Have Lived a Thousand Years is not the diary of a victim of the holocaust published posthumously. It is not historical fiction either. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is the first-hand account of the horrors of the holocaust, told by someone who survived to know the injustice of what she experienced. Livia Bitton-Jackson, born Elli L. Freidmann, was thirteen when she, her mother, and her brother were taken to a concentration camp in Auschwitz, Germany. She is one of the few who survived their sentence there. In 1945, her family was released and eventually came to the United States. I Have Lived a Thousand Years is a descriptive memoir of Jackson’s harrowing experience.

"The book begins with Jackson describing her happy childhood, setting the reader up for the horrors to come. Jackson then describes the measured invasion of Hungary and how she and her family are systematically stripped of their pride and their possessions. The following chapters describe Elli and her family’s deportation to various concentration camps, she and her mother’s separation from her brother, and their arrival in Auschwitz. The bulk of the book is spent describing the horrors that she faced in these camps and she and her mother’s desperate struggle to stay together and to stay alive.

"Jackson’s thorough descriptions give the reader a personal view of these camps. She depicts the detestable food and living conditions, the harsh guards, and the rigorous labor that were forced upon her and her mother. Several times she and her mother are faced with death and, through sheer determination, miraculously survive. When she and her mother are finally liberated, Jackson tells of a German civilian who believes she is much older than fourteen:

'How old do you think I am?' She looks at me uncertainly.
'Sixty? Sixty-two?'
'Sixty? I am fourteen. Fourteen years old.'

"Elli’s has seemingly 'lived a thousand years' in her year of living in concentration camps. This is a sobering reminder of the inhuman treatment of the victims of the holocaust. Yet Elli is a survivor and this is what sets this book apart.

"Elli’s hopeful journey to America gives the reader a sense of optimism for the fate of the human spirit. Her ensuing education and normal family life (not described in the book) show that there is life after experiencing some of the most unimaginable physical and mental anguish ever inflicted on mankind. For anyone looking for a book that will lift and inspire, this book provides that and much more. Jackson delivers her story in a comprehensive, direct fashion, leaving readers with a sense of the triumph of human perseverance."


Anonymous said...

this is the most touching story that i have ever read in my life!

Anonymous said...

A very interesting story,
Very touching. Heart Warming.

Post a Comment