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.
A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, 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.
Hybrid; half-breed. Used by the Third Reich to denote a person of mixed blood.
NOW THAT MY formal education is behind me, I like to continue learning through my love of reading. Despite a work of fiction, Mischling, by Affinity Konar, is a study into the most atrocious crimes of our history. Powerful in nature and deeply researched in scope, it tells of the forgotten story of the twins of Auschwitz during the time of the Holocaust.
Narrated by two uniquely captivating and reflective voices, twelve-year-old twins Pearl and Stasha begin their compelling story in the the fall of 1944. Pearl and Stasha are mischlings.
Pearl is in charge of:
the sad, the good, the past.
Stasha must care for:
the funny, the future, the bad.
Their uncanny ability to take refuge in their identical nature elevates the qualities of twins to a mythical level, drawing the attention of Josef Mengele, the infamous “Angel of Death” and his unspeakable experiments.
It's counterintuitive, even uplifting, that a story about the most odious of crimes could carry such lightness. Ms. Konar takes a serious topic and makes it unalarming, and beautiful, somehow, using Pearl’s whimsical and Stasha’s fiery voices. But, there lies the mastery of Ms. Konar’s command for luminous narratives that unfurl with a sense of urgency, yet brims with magic and hope.
The most crushing of novels, Mischling, by Affinity Konar, may not call to you right away, but I encourage you to persist. For within the pages of this book is an unforgettable story—a powerful reminder—of the cruelty that once walked among us. It is a story that will eviscerate—breaking the heart a thousand folds even as it rebuilds it line by line.
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After reading Mischling, I found myself online reading about the people that Konar drew her inspirations from, especially Gisella Perl "The Angel of Auschwitz". Do you find yourself researching more on a topic based on a book you've read? Which book last affected you so deeply? What was the topic?
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