Reading Rabble Review: "Prisoner B-3087" by Alan Gratz

4 Reluctant Rabbles for a frightening but necessary story

Prisoner B-3087
By Ruth Gruener, Jack Gruener, Alan Gratz

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps. 

10 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 tattooed with the words PRISONER 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 have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. 

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

Based on an astonishing true story.

Difficult - in one word the review is complete. There is no way to prepare for a book like "PRISONER B-3087". It's such an important event that the world must never forget, yet it is also very difficult to read about. This story about the survival of Yanek Gruener is one of the hardest books I've read for the Reading Rabble. I don't mean that in the sense that it was hard to physically read. The writing and vocabulary are very easy and aimed at the younger YA audience. It easily introduces the today's youth to the monumental events that make up the Holocaust. I mean it in the sense that it's just hard to read about one of the saddest chapters in human history.

There have been so many mass tragedies in recent history - Nanking, Cambodia, Serbia to name only a few - and the Jewish Holocaust of World War II is one of the most well known and thoroughly documented. This particular book is the story of one young man's survival of that human tragedy. It compares easily with seeing the movie Schindler's List. While not nearly as graphic as that film, I couldn't help having flashbacks to the scenes portrayed in the movie while reading this "PRISONER". Perhaps that is why it took so long to read. I had to put the book down at times to give my imagination and emotions a rest. It is all to real and disturbing to take in large chunks.

Given my description of this book, you may be wondering why I am giving it 4 Rabbles with an R for reluctant readers. The reason is simple - knowledge. This is one of those books that you need to read to understand what happened to the Nazi's victims. No part of it is too graphic that younger readers will be overly disturbed, however its importance as a vehicle for knowledge cannot be understated. We ALL share in the guilt of what our fellow human beings experienced under the lash of Hitler's maniacal reign and we ALL need to be aware of what happened there. This is an easy introduction for younger readers to the reality of the holocaust.

There is not a lot that the Rouser can say that is good about this book. It is one of those stories that you do not necessarily read for pleasure, but for knowledge. Reluctant Readers will find the book easy to read and understand. They may find the subject hard to take, but once again it is something that we all need to remember.

Some of the concentration camps were left as reminders of the evil acts of mankind. You can go to Poland and Germany and see these places. Every person who visits these places comes back with stories of overwhelming horror at what man is capable of doing to his fellow man. Many pictures and stories are available online as well.

4 Rabbles with an R for reluctant readers for this gripping personal narrative about one of humanity's gravest and darkest chapters. 

We Must Never Forget!

Rabble back: What books or films have made a lasting - if grim - impression on your life?