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Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

Review

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat’s book, SURVIVORS CLUB: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz, is a book about Michael Borstein’s Jewish family’s experience living in Poland during World War II.

The Bornstein family lived in Żarki, Poland and were under Nazi rule soon after the war started. The story begins before Michael’s birth and describes the struggles and sacrifices made by his family to survive in a time where people were killed instantly just because of their religion. Many fortunate experiences allowed the Bornstein’s to avoid living in concentration camps for a while but, ultimately, they could not avoid their fate. The book brings to life the excruciating reality of life during the war. It describes in great detail the inconceivable decisions that had to be made by ordinary families, decisions of who gets to stay and who must go to the concentration camps or if one’s child comes with them into hiding or is given up for adoption. People had to make choices between staying and trying to escape, where failure meant death and success meant the death of another family member.

"I really enjoyed SURVIVORS CLUB not only because of the historical details of the war, but because it went into detail of life after the war....Borstein highlights the best in human nature."

In addition to the horrific tragedies experienced in the camp, the book details life afterwards. It shows the struggles of returning home and trying to get back to a life as close to normal as possible in a world of poverty and racism, a life of not only trying to assimilate in a new country but trying to succeed while still dealing with the tragic memories and loss.

The book also has a suspenseful aspect to it. Although Michael is one of the survivors (as the title states), many family members were lost and every page makes the reader wonder if the family will survive and stay together or be one of the millions killed in the genocide.

Throughout the story you see the strong theme of family. It is apparent throughout the book how the parents made great sacrifices risking their lives for their children and how siblings took care of one another. Even with the family scattered in different camps, hiding in attics and living in different countries, survivors ultimately found and helped each other out.

I really enjoyed SURVIVORS CLUB not only because of the historical details of the war, but because it went into detail of life after the war. In addition to a story of family, it is a story of a mother’s love for her child and what lengths she goes through to make life for her child normal. It also showed how a family comes together in the face of tragedy. There are points where the story makes you very sad but, in the end, it is an inspiring story of love, hope and resilience. No matter the hardship, gruesome reality and heartbreaking decisions the family made, they survived and worked hard to make life "normal" again.

Michael Borstein was born in 1940. It took him 77 years and a little persuading from his daughter, Debbie Bornstein Holinstat, to write his story. With the help of family, friends and historians, he has written a book from a child’s perspective that documents what is arguably the worst time in modern history. What is most interesting about this book is that in showing the worst in human nature, Borstein highlights the best in human nature. If you like to read books about personal experiences based in a historical setting, SURVIVORS CLUB is for you.

Reviewed by Rohan S., Teen Board Member on January 29, 2019

Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz
Written by Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein Holinstat.

  • Publication Date: January 15, 2019
  • Genres: Family, History, Holocaust, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250118751
  • ISBN-13: 9781250118752