Today Mandie joins the blog tour for the new novel from Marion Kummerow, Not Without My Sister. With thanks to publisher Bookouture for the advance copy of the book and for including us in the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
All they had left was each other. Until the Nazis tore them apart.
1944, Germany: After years of hiding from the Nazis, Rachel Epstein and her little sister Mindel are captured by the Gestapo and sent to the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. The only ray of light for either girl is that they are together.
But on arrival they are separated. As she’s seventeen and deemed an adult, Rachel is sent to work in a brutal factory whilst four-year-old Mindel is sent into the so-called “star” camp for Jewish prisoners. All on her own, Rachel knows her sister will have no chance of survival—unless she can find someone to take care of her.
Working in the windowless, airless factory—filling munitions casings with chemicals that burn her fingers and make her eyes sting—the only thing that keeps Rachel going is the thought of her little sister. Because if there’s even a chance Mindel is alive, Rachel knows she must try to save her.
But, separated by barbed wire, and treated brutally by SS guards who do not even see them as human beings, can either of the orphaned sisters ever dare to hope that they’ll find their way back to each other? And to freedom?
A completely heartbreaking, utterly gripping tale of courage, loss and overcoming impossible odds, perfect for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Ragged Edge of Night and The Orphan’s Tale.
Rachel and Mindel are two sisters living in Bavaria during the Second World War. They already know hardship as their farm is now owned by an elderly neighbour when it was decreed that Jews were not allowed to own property, but their parents are doing everything they can to keep them on the land they know. When the neighbour dies unexpectedly Rachel and Mindel find their world ripped apart and they are separated from their parents and their brothers. Moved from camp to camp they eventually end up at Bergen Belsen where they become separated from each other as well. At 15 Rachel is sent to the part of the camp where she is put to work and Mindel is put in the star camp where she knows no one. Rachel and Mindel are both determined to find the other, convinced that they are still alive, but this is not easy in a place where no one can truly be trusted as everyone is doing what ever it takes to survive.
This is a story that will both break your heart and also have you hoping that the two sisters will both survive the torture that they are forced to endure and eventually be reunited. You can feel Rachel’s despair as each day is worse than the one before as she becomes almost like a zombie completing each task without any real sense of what she is doing, often wondering if she should just give up like so many others had before her. It is only her refusal to abandon her quest to find her sister that keeps her going. Mindel does not truly understand what is happening to her and it is that naivety due to her age that somehow makes the whole experience a little easier for her. Forging a friendship with Laszlo, they become inseparable and it is to him that she turns whenever she is struggling. He becomes a surrogate for the family she has lost. He tries to act tough, but you know just like everyone else he wants the suffering to end and to be free.
I have read quite a few books now based on experiences within in the concentration camps, but this is the first complete work of fiction. That being said I think that Marion Kummerow has really captured the harsh surroundings and treatment that the inmates of places like Bergen Belsen had to suffer. The addition of real people that you can identify with adds that extra layer to this book and shows just how much of a miracle it is that anyone survived to tell the world what really happened in these horrific places. It seems out of place to say that I enjoyed a book with such an emotive subject but this is definitely one that I would recommend to others.
About the Author
Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to “discover the world” and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she’s now living with her family.
Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemma, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humor and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.
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