I was freakishly excited to read this, because a) who doesn’t like feels-destroying books? and b) I adored The Wrong Boy by Suzy Zail! I read it, gosh, about 2 years ago now and you can see my incredibly ancient review here.
Thank you Walker Books Australia for the review-copy! Alexander Altmann A10567 by Suzy Zail hits shelves on May 1st, 2014!
“Don’t let her know you’re scared,” Alexander’s father had said to him the first time Alexander had sat on Sari’s back.
Fourteen-year-old Alexander Altmann doesn’t need to look at the number tattooed on his arm. A10567; he knows it by heart. He also knows to survive Auschwitz, he must toughen up. Being soft will get him killed. Alexander will take any chance he’s given – and when that chance is caring for the German officers’ horses he grabs it. He just can’t let them know he’s scared.
I love how Suzy Zail manages to write Holocaust books that make you cry AND THEN pick you up with a sweet ending.
Honestly, if you can’t handle Holocaust stories (and I honestly don’t blame you), Suzy Zail is the author to try.
‘Scuse me, I just need a tissue.
I absolutely adored Suzy Zail’s first book, The Wrong Boy, which is about the Holocaust still…but it’s about a pianist. I’m a pianist! I LOVE PIANOS. So obviously the book ticked all the awesome boxes for me. Alexander Altmann A10567 was about horses. I’m…not so much into horses. So while all the love went to The Wrong Boy, I have reservations about Alexander Altmann A10567.
It does hinge quite heavily on our hairy four-legged friends. For me, who knows nothing about horses except the have hair and not fur (clever aren’t I?) it wasn’t confusing. It just didn’t spark my interest.
I felt the writing was description heavy. I love writing that packs a punch and scars you for life…but this? I felt myself wading through details a lot of the time. This right here is the reason it’s getting a 3-stars. Not because it was about horses, or because my soul withers at Holocaust books. I think I was comparing it to The Wrong Boy the entire time which probably wasn’t very healthy, and it didn’t live up to expectations.
It’s narrated by Alexander (didn’t see that coming, did you?) who makes me so sad to read about. He refuses to make friends and he’s living with a guilty secret. And, I need more tissues. IT’S JUST NOT FAIR, OKAY?! They had to feed these horses all the food. Don’t let the horses lose weight. Make sure they’re in perfect condition. And if the prisoners even stole a single oat? They’d be beaten to death! Nobody should have to live like that, an Alexander was only 14-years-old.
While it broke my heart, it’s not a violent or bloody Holocaust book. It’s not going to give me nightmares like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Code Name Verity did. Alexander Altmann doesn’t cushion the facts…but it doesn’t delve into all of them either. It’d be fine for a younger audience. You know, because everybody deserves to cry.
and here’s a quickie question for you: what was the last historical fiction book you read?
Cait grew up reading historical fiction so therefore she’s read a LOT of holocaust books and shed many tears. Yet she continues doing it to herself. Why. Why? Her all time favourite WWII book is probably CODE NAME VERITY. It destroyed her. Currently, she’s reading THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE which is blissfully fictitious.