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Publication Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
First Line: “We were made, once. My twin, Pearl, and me.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
'We were made once. My twin, Pearl, and me.'Click To Tweet
I have mixed feelings about this book. I find books about the Holocaust and World War II fascinating. Each author who writes about this time period creates a story about characters’ experiences during the war using research and their imagination. Affinity Konar was no different.
I picked up this book because it was a different angle on the usual historical Holocaust books I’ve read. I had heard about Mengele’s Zoo but I had never read anything about it in detail. During the Holocaust, a”doctor” named Josef Mengele performed experiments on twin children in Auschwitz.
Mischling is told through the alternating perspectives of Stasha and Pearl, 13-year-old twins who find themselves in the Auschwitz concentration camp. They are the recipients of Josef Mengele’s inhumane tests and experiments. Along with many other children, they suffer through Mengele’s poking and prodding. He does whatever he wants to them, all in the name of science. They endure this pain with the promise that their families will remain safe.
The book is split into two parts, and to be honest, I began to lose some interest in the second part of the book. The book feels like it’s missing something once Stasha and Pearl are separated. Their alternate storylines were less interesting to me than the first half of the book when they were together.
For those of you who enjoy historical fiction, especially books that take place during World War II, I’d recommend this book! It has its ups and downs (well, mostly downs), but I’m glad I stuck it out for that second half. You can find the book here, or you can click on the cover image above!