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review 2017-06-15 00:00
Mischling - Affinity Konar I did enjoy the writing of this book, even though I was horrified by many of the events depicted.

I was interrupted in the reading of this book by exams. Up till then I found I was enchanted by the twin experience, in spite of the terrible setting. When I returned to the book the spell was broken and I felt I was reading about innocence twisted by evil slowly becoming despair, vengeance and then forgiveness.

Even though the twins despaired at their separation and the loss of a part of themselves, I never got the impression that they were identical in soul. This was reflected in the different trajectories of their stories.

It also made me think about where our sense of self hibernates when events do their best to crush it.

It's not for everyone and some may think "oh no, not another holocaust book". But maybe there's something in the zeitgeist that is drawing our awareness to it as a warning. I'm not sure it's 'torture porn'. There's many other more salaciously violent stories out there. And there is a case to be made for facing evil directly to keep it at bay rather than turning away from it and missing it creeping up on you before it's too late.
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review 2017-06-10 00:02
Beautifully Written
Mischling - Affinity Konar

I don't know what to say except it was a beautifully written novel given the subject matter. It's never easy to write about this particular period in history and never will be. However at least what an author can do is make it readable and make it a good story worthwhile to read.


You really do feel for Stasha and Pearl once they're herded into the camp and are used as experimental fodder to play with. You see both of them mature rapidly and have their childhoods robbed from them near the start of the novel. They were already close to begin with yet because of the circumstances they're closer with them trying to hold and support each other. It's almost heartbreaking to read because without one, the other just simply feels they don't exist.


As to when Pearl disappears, you feel the separation anxiety as you progress through the novel. You feel Stasha's pain and emptiness. Her other half is gone and she has no idea if she's alive or not. You can feel the void within Stasha and as you continue reading, you're still feeling the pain and you're wondering throughout the novel if she will ever see Pearl again. This is great writing on the authors part as you can distinctly feel what the characters are feeling throughout the novel.


There's a small cast of characters in this book. Some stand out more than others. Bruna stood out for me a lot. I loved every aspect of her and her strength. Then you have Peter, Feliks and the nursing staff at the camp. You don't get attached to them as much as Pearl and Stasha are the main ones to be focused on. However, for me, I really loved Bruna.


The only criticism I would have for this book is I found it sometimes a little too wordy and poetic at times. It made it for some areas of the book hard to follow - it would be best to avoid this type of writing. Yes it sets the mood and makes it melancholy but the subject matter itself is already sad and tragic to begin with. I believe that's enough as it is.


Definitely recommended for those that are interested in this particular historical period.

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review 2016-09-09 05:51
Two of a Kind
Mischling - Affinity Konar

To be a mischling carries the connotation of being a half-blood, a mongrel. And so with this epithet we are introduced to Stasha and Pearl, twin girls with blond ringlets and Jewish heritage whose best protection before the cattle cars was their fertile imaginations, their Zeyde’s intellectual games and pastimes, and their fragile mother’s drawings. When they arrive at Auschwitz, their mother quickly grasps that their duality is desirable and, in desperation, hands them over to the lunatic evil of Joseph Mengele, believing that to be their one chance at life. As the girls join his “zoo” their identities begin to separate through their different coping strategies and the horrors to which they are subjected. They must constantly fight to remain as much alike and to hold on to as much of their humanity as possible.


The subject matter of this book ensures that it will not be for everyone, however those who venture within will find both an important view of a horrific part of history as well as a testament to the spirits of even the smallest beings who endured and survived. The strengths of the book are in the quirky but engaging writing style, and in the carefully drawn characters of the children.

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review 2016-06-28 00:00
Mischling - Affinity Konar

A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hauntingly lyrical, and shattering, Mischling is a recount of some of the Holocaust horrors that children in Auschwitz were subjected to at the hands of Dr. Joseph Mengele. Interested in twins, the emotionally stunted Mengele subjects them to horrific experiments.

Our narrators, thirteen year-old twins Pearl and Stasha are two halves of a whole. Stasha is in charge of the funny, the future, and takes on the bad. Pearl is the sad, the good, and the past. They are despair and loss, they are hope and light. Through Konar's thoughtful and magical prose, the girls deliver their story in two halves to the reader in the hopes of becoming whole again.

Like Doerr's quote on the jacket—if your soul can survive the journey, you'll be rewarded by by reading one of the most powerful and beautifully written books of the year.

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