When I can get a chance to learn about another story in history that I haven’t heard before, I love it! I think that there are so many heroic, amazing people, and when I can hear their story, their memories live on.
Beyond the Wire is a historical fiction that takes an amazing true story and brings it to life with excellent research and storytelling. This one, like all the WWII concentration camp books I review, is an emotional read. Following the story of Jakub and Anna, both prisoners in Auschwitz-Birkenau, this book takes us through a plot to liberate Auschwitz. The bravery, danger, and utter terror that these people went through will bring tears to your eyes, but it will be worth the read.
The story is told through three perspectives, Jakub and Anna, but then the third is, surprisingly, an SS Officer. I liked this third voice in the story, it provided some additional context that we may not have gotten. While the story of Jakub and Anna is hard to read, there is that shining glimmer of light that shows through, making you feel the hope and resilience of these people.
I would highly recommend this story for any reader that wants to learn more about the bravery of these Auschwitz prisoners. It is a difficult story to read, but it is so important to remember these people and their courageousness.
There are so many content warnings for this one: murder, body mutilation, torture, starvation, Holocaust horrors.
Where to Find This Book:
The bestselling author of Irena’s War blends fact and fiction in a gripping novel based on one of the most extraordinary true stories of World War II–an uprising behind the walls of Auschwitz concentration camp.
October 1944: In the long, narrow undressing rooms in Auschwitz-Birkenau, prisoner Jakub Bak toils under the scrutiny of SS guards. Like other members of the Sonderkommando, Jakub was selected on arrival for an unthinkable job: sorting through the clothes of the dead and moving their bodies from the gas chambers to the crematoriums. In this hell within a hell, Jakub clings to the promise he made to his murdered father–to live, at any cost–and to the moments he is able to spend in the company of Anna, imprisoned in the women’s camp.
Every morning, Anna marches miles to the union munitions factory where she works alongside other prisoners. Even Jakub doesn’t know that she and a few other women have been taking the ultimate risk, smuggling trace amounts of gunpowder back in their clothing. A bold plan is brewing to revolt against the SS and liberate the camp. Jakub, pressured to join the resistance, knows that any uprising faces impossible odds. Added to this already stark choice is another desperate reality–the risk from informers who see their only chance of survival in betraying their fellow Jews.
Powerfully moving and unflinching in its authenticity, Beyond the Wire tells of the women and men who, though outnumbered and outgunned, fought to free themselves, sparking a brilliant flash of light and hope amidst the darkest evil that humans can conceive.
Just the Facts:
Beyond the Wire by James D. Shipman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Pub Date: January 22, 2022
I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.