Nine Women's Journey to Freedom

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What makes this story unique which I will warn you there are a lot, is that it isn’t only about the story of these nine women. Parts of the story take us through step by step of the journey the nine went through but we also get to hear part of the story like the author is telling it to us. We get to hear parts of her experience learning about her great aunt and the other 8 women. So there is a family element to the story because the author is related to one of the women. We also get a detective element because Gwen had to do a lot of digging to find the names of some of the women, to learn about their past and their story, and to track down living relatives to hear their stories and experiences of these women.

I appreciate that the author didn’t write this as too graphic of a novel but also included enough for us to grasp the horrors of what they went through in the camps and even after. There were a lot of things mentioned that I had never known before. Like the author mentions in an interview she had, the stories of women were kind of put to the background and so hearing of what they went through just opened up a whole new realization of the tragic way that the Nazis treated other human beings. But I also appreciate that the author includes in the story how not all Germans were bad. Many had no idea what was happening. Some were also treated very badly and tried to help the people imprisoned. I think this is an important thing to remember as well when thinking and reading about the holocaust.

There were many things that stood out to me in the audiobook version of this novel. I have read a lot of audiobooks but I appreciated a few different things included in the audiobook. The audio of the book included a recording of one of the people mentioned in the book actually singing, which is something you wouldn’t be able to experience when physically reading it. I also liked how the narrator for the story sang parts of the novel when it was appropriate. This made it so much more engaging because it often talks about how one of the women was asked to sing by the others and had a love for music. I also enjoyed hearing an interview with the authors at the end of the audio recording. I would highly recommend listening to this interview once you have finished the recording of the actual book. The narration not only added a lot to the book with the singing numbers but also the voice was changed for each of the people in the story and added accents and tried to mimic their personality, the speed they would talk at, etc.

And you can tell with this book that it took a lot of research and time for the author to gather the information to write this story and tell it in a way that won’t just depress us about what happened but also provide a sense of hope and joy in how they found companionship with each other. This story is one of great courage, endurance, love, not only one filled with challenges and struggles.

I have nothing against their story as it took a lot of courage for Gwen’s aunt to tell her story and I am sure it will be very inspirational for all who hear it, the only reason I give it a four-star is that the narrative was a little jumpy. It went back and forth. It started by telling the background of one of the girls and telling up to how they started their escape then it would jump back and tell the story of another one of the women before picking up with their escape. I have to say this isn’t an action-packed book. It will take time to progress as a lot of it is just explaining the story of the nine women. So it is different than what I typically read. I mostly read actioned packed and faced-paced, but I really liked this change of speed and taking the time to hear about the nine women, the author's journey to discover their stories, and of their family. Another problem, with no fault to the book was that I had a hard time keeping straight who each person was and I still don't know. There were just a lot of people to keep track but it was nice that at the beginning of the book there is a list of the nine women and who each one was, but I couldn't refer back to it when listening, which is a downside of the audio version.

It was also nice to hear at the ending of the book how life turned out for the women to the best that the author could find. Most storied end with them finding freedom but this one continues to tell you their life after and shines a light on the fact that they couldn’t just move on from what they had experienced. It stayed with them and affected them for the rest of their lives.

It is hard to hear about the horrible things they endured but it definitely helped to show another side to the story and again showed me a lot of things I never knew before. With lack of better words, it was a really good true story, would recommend reading.