The Midwife of Auschwitz
By Anna Stuart
Published May 31, 2022 by Bookouture
Ana Kaminski, a long-time midwife, is forced into the terror of Auschwitz alongside her good friend, whom she has promised to take care of, Ester Pasternak, a nurse. The two take on the hard and heartbreaking task of caring for the mothers and mothers-to-be in the “maternity ward” at the concentration camp. They were both separated from their families back in Łódź. Not knowing where their families have ended up or if they are even alive, they must look to each other and the women in Block 24 for support and strength, and also, not knowing when or if this nightmare will come to an end, they must fight to stay alive because the only weapon they have is staying alive. While trying to survive the horrible living conditions and constant threat of death, they must work hard to help these women deliver their babies. Even knowing what their horrible fate is, each birth is a small moment of joy. When the Nazis start to select specific babies to take away and give to German families, Ester and Ana start to secretly tattoo their mothers’ numbers in hopes of one day reuniting them.
Reading this book was so incredibly hard, not because it was bad (this book is absolutely amazing), but because it was so heartbreaking. Reading about the absolute nightmare that real people have actually gone through is not an easy thing. As a mother, there were parts of this book that were so hard to read and I could feel my heart aching for these women. There were times when I would put the book down, go over to my kids, and just hold them. But this story isn’t just heartbreak; it mostly is, but not all. This is also about the incredible strength and resilience that were shown. Ana and Ester fight every day to stay strong for not only themselves but the women they are helping and also hold onto hope that they will one day be reunited with the ones they love.
This book was really hard to put down. Every page and chapter had me wanting to keep reading. Anna Stuart did a beautiful job of portraying this story. Her writing and ability to express the pain and heartache were done so well and respectfully. Her characters she created, Ana and Ester, were based on the real midwife Stanislawa Leszczyńska and her daughter Sylwia, who was a medical student. Anna Stuart should be applauded for how beautifully she represented their relationship through her own characters and how she showed their strength and bravery. This book was so well written that I want to reread it again and again.
If this is a book that has peaked your interest, or even if it’s not, I highly recommend getting a copy and reading it as soon as you can.
Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Anna Stuart for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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