Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Century of Wisdom, by Caroline Stoessinger

At 108 years old, Alice Herz-Sommer is the oldest living Holocaust survivor.  She prefers to not talk much about those days, her time in Theresienstadt, because it fills her with sadness.  But having lived over a century, Alice has seen much more than just the Holocaust.  She has lived in several countries, has met amazing people, and lived an exceptional life.

For a long time, I have been fascinated by survivor stories.  What gives someone the will to survive over someone else?  I thought that, given the title of this book, I would learn a new perspective on survivorship.  But the book does not touch much on the Holocaust in all actuality.  Clearly having survived the concentration camp affected every aspect of Alice's life, but we never hear a whole lot about her experiences there.  I understand and respect this, but still, as a reader, I found it disappointing.

My biggest complaint about this book is that the writing is choppy and the book's organization is very scattered.  There are unexplained time jumps that took me a while to figure out.  The book just did not flow very well, and I had a very difficult time reading it.  Alice's stories themselves seem quite fascinating, but the author really writes in a way that, to me, was very dry.  Having a musician write someone else's memoir would be like having me finish a symphony.  Technically, it could be done, but it is not going to be the most brilliant thing composed.

The concept of the book is a good one, I simply found the execution lacking.

I received a review copy as part of the Amazon Vine program.

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