SYNOPSIS: It’s 1939 in Poland, and Arab knows that standing up for anyone—especially her Jewish family—only paints a target on her back. So she plans to survive the Nazi occupation the way she always has: disguise herself as an Aryan boy, lead her street gang, and sell whatever she can steal.
But though Arab starts the war with the one goal of staying alive, others have different ideas for her. When a stranger asks for her help with a covert rescue mission, Arab has to make a choice. Trying to be a hero is a surefire way to get killed. But if she doesn’t do it, who will?
Hard-hitting and unforgettable, The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is a story about survival, the necessity of resistance, and the hope that can be found when the world is at its darkest.
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction (borders on the edge of straight fiction though because of the amount of historical inaccuracies)
RECOMMENDED AGE: 16+ (violence, antisemetic remarks, historical inaccuracies, rape, child death, inaccurate cultural information)
RATING: ★☆☆☆☆/ 1 Star
REVIEW: I received a free copy of this book from Dayle at The Literary Llama for a guest reviewing position! Thanks! All opinions are my own.
I’m going to make this a brief review because there are many, many people who have expressed the same views that I’m about to and they can explain them so much better than I can. This book sounded amazing and I have wanted to read it since it came out. I knew that there was some controversy about it, but I hadn’t had a chance to read about it. When Dayle gifted me the book I wanted to go into the book blind to the controversy so it wouldn’t taint my view of the book before I gave it a chance. I read this book in one day and I will say that the writing is really good. Whatever else comes after this paragraph I will say that this author can write really well and that I might pick up another book of hers in the future.
However, there were a lot of issues with this book. The book had a lot of nati-Semitic elements in it from how the main, who was Jewish, idolized Hitler and the Nazis, to how Arab likened herself to Jesus, to how the character said and monologue a lot of Jewish stereotypes and really insulted her own culture. Her own name, Arab, is even really troubling to readers. The book has a problem with historical accuracy. The back of the book tells us that “with any work of historical fiction, the author takes great care in research”, which was sadly not true. The book missed several key events from that time period and failed to mention events that Arab would have surely during the course of the book. Some items include: The invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union within 2 weeks of Germany’s invasion of Poland and Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass where 91 Jewish people were murdered during the attack, hundreds died afterwards, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps) in Austria which Arab would have witnessed and would have had something to say about. The book also has a lot of cultural inaccuracies. The Nazis didn’t get into power by fluke. They didn’t just get to kill Jewish people just because. They came into power because they blamed the Jews for their economic issues and their downfalls from World War 1 and many people already had existing beliefs about Jewish people. This along with expert use of propaganda helped cast the Jewish in an awful light which made it so much easier for the Nazis to rise to power and to kill these people. The Polish did not have a very warm reception of the Jewish people before the invasion and Arab should have known that. The portrayal of the opposite is false in this book. The book also portrays at least two Nazis in a good light while it presents the majority of the Jewish in a bad light. And while this book has really good writing and would have otherwise been a 5/5 star book I can’t ignore the inaccuracies and the anti-Semitic language in this book. It’s hurtful to the Jewish people and it spits on the graves of those who were lost during World War 2.
Verdict: I’m not going to tell you not to read this book and I’m not going to tell you to never buy another book by this author again… but I will say that this book is not something that should be celebrated. It’s hurtful to the Jewish people and it’s a disgrace to historical fiction. Read if you want, but please go into it with these things in mind.
Review by Paige G.
To see more from Paige and learn about our guest reviewers, click here!
Thank you for reading!