Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut. 

"Persecution and hatred had walked through the door to my soul and ripped out my heart." 

This book was historical fiction at it's finest. The ugly words were intricately weaved into a beautiful story of strength and perseverance. My heart ached with pain and swelled with inspiration. The circumstances Helen overcame were gut wrenching and awful. She lost loved ones, was humiliated in more ways than one, and in the end had lasting emotional scars.

"I found gratitude in the basement. My heartache never stopped, but I learned to be grateful for the essentials of life: for the air in my lungs, the visions my eyes behold, and the very experience of being alive." 

The story was about a young girl trapped in a real life nightmare... Helen is a jew and Hitler wants rid of all jews... Her friend Max enlists to protect her and when times become too dangerous for her to remain at home, he hides her and her brother. They remain in hiding for years before the monsters come knocking down their door. While the cellar always seemed like a prison, when the S.S. come to take them away, they know things will only get worse. Together they embark on a terrible journey to hell (or Auschwitz) and when they arrive, they are separated and she is left with the images of murder in her mind. She finds her strength to survive illness, rape, and physical abuse in her father's words and a dirty dress.

"I wanted to confiscate one of their guns and shoot all of them through their hearts. I wanted warm bullets to find their frigid, calculating, stone-hard souls. 

I finished the book hours ago, yet my brain is still within the pages. I was so captivated by the horror and utter raw reality. To think that actual people lived through similar things makes me sick to my stomach. It also makes me very appreciative for the life that I live. While reading Helen's story I felt so twisted thinking how fortunate she was, but to think how many people were killed... in some twisted way, Helen was lucky. She went through hell for that luck and had to sacrifice her health, innocence, and pride for that luck or as other's would call it, life. Her story is one that should be read by all. The Author's writing flawlessly intertwined history with an emotionally charged work of fiction. I loved it!

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