Prior to joining Bookishfirst, I read Cilka's Journey and reviewed on Goodreads. I am happy to share my review here as well for any future reader. Thank you!
Reading survivor stories is so hard. It should be. You can't sugarcoat someone's experience to make it more palatable. That being said, it's important to read them, to learn about what happened in history to recognize the signs in the future, and to acknowledge the lives of those who lived and died.
Heather Morris does a great job synthesizing her research into the lives of the prisoners of both the Auschwitz camps and the Vorkuta gulag where Cilka was imprisoned. Cilka's Journey starts where The Tattooist of Auschwitz left off, but with Cilka as our main character instead of Lale and Gita. We follow Cilka as she once again is herded onto a cattle car and taken to an devastating and unknown world, the gulag, where she will once again struggle to survive and maintain some semblance of self. Staggered with flashbacks, Cilka's story progresses in a similar manner to Lale in the Tattooist--from chaos, fear, and the persistence of unknown threats to a contrived sense of order and relative safety in her surroundings.
I listened to the audiobook version of this book, which both made it more realistic but also harder to read. While Cilka's Journey, as written by Morris, is a work of fiction, she based her work on well researched facts. I'm thankful for her efforts.