Powerful True WWII Story

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The Nine is a true story about nine women who met during their time as Nazi prisoners and banded together to find their way to freedom. They endured extreme conditions in the concentration camps, imprisoned as political prisoners. Each was caught while active in the resistance movement. The author's grandmother is one of the nine, and through a lot of research, Strauss honors each woman's story. A book like this is ever more important in the current political climate, where people are turning against one another just for having opposing views/beliefs. We must work to remember the horrors of the past ("lest we forget") or we are doomed to repeat them.

The book is set up so that the initial first eight chapters introduce you to each of the nine women. It took longer to read because it is such a dense and emotional topic. Strauss entwines both their backgrounds and stories, into the current plot of their escape from a final death march. At times I felt some of the transitions between the "present" (their harrowing journey across war-torn Germany) and the "past" (telling you each woman's background) was a bit jerky. However, overall it is an extremely impactful story, all the more powerful in its truth. I very much enjoyed the historical fiction aspects (where Strauss creates dialogue between the characters) and felt that she does a great service to each woman in her representation. It is clearly well researched and accurate, but not dry in the least. The reader is completely immersed in the writing, feeling the fears and joys of each woman during their perilous trek.

I am so thrilled to have received an ARC of this novel and have been recommending it since I first started reading it. Thank you to BookishFirst and St Martin's Press for the copy, and to Gwen Strauss for writing this book.