Cilka's Journey

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In 1942 Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices her long beautiful hair, and forces her separation from the other women prisoners. Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly given, equals survival. After liberation, Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a desolate, brutal prison camp in Siberia known as Vorkuta, inside the Arctic Circle. Innocent and imprisoned once again, Cilka ...

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Angelique M

Oct 1, 2019

A Tale of Injustice

It's unthinkable that a survivor of the horrors of Auschwitz should suffer the further injustice of a sentence in a Russian gulag, but that was Cilka's reality.

This book centers on Cilka's time in that gulag, though there are flashbacks to her time in Auschwitz. At the beginning I wondered just how depressing this novel would get, but two things kept the darkness from becoming overwhelming: Cilka's enduring hopeful spirit and the author's sensitive handling of the women's abuse.


Cilka's compassion for and understanding of others (even when they judged her harshly) made her a highly sympathetic character, and it was interesting to read about the various medical jobs she did.

Unfortunately, the ending felt rushed, and since the love story wasn't developed at all until almost the very end, I couldn't get invested in it. Also, I was left wondering about Cilka's life after the end of the novel. I wish the author's note had at least mentioned whether she continued using her medical skills.


I hadn't read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, but this worked fine as a standalone.


My review is based on an ARC of this book.

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