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Review: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Title: Prisoner B-3087
Author: Alan Gratz
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA historical fiction (based on a true story)
Pages: 260
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)Poland

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Survive. At any cost. Ten concentration camps. Ten different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face. As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has and everyone he loves have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner--his arm marked B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could never have imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror.

Can Yanek make it through without losing his will to live--and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Review: Alan Gratz is masterful at writing historical fiction so that teenagers can understand it, enjoy it, and empathize with those that came before us. This novel is no exception. Prisoner B-3087 is a person, not a number, and the reader gets to know Yanek through his childhood in Warsaw, his Holocaust experiences, and his survival.

Survival is a theme of the novel. Yanek promises himself he will survive each step of the way. He will survive the deportations of the ghetto, he will survive the ten (10!) concentration camps, and he will survive the death marches. He will survive for his parents, his aunts and uncles, his cousins, and his classmates, for all of those who didn't survive.

The Afterword of this novel tells us that Yanek is a real person and this is his story. For teenagers, that will make this story all the more powerful and meaningful.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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