With “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” I expected a mash up of “Water for Elephants” and “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Instead, I found a story about the Underground resistance and occupation of Warsaw. While interesting, I was somewhat disappointed that the story I was reading was not what I thought the book would be about.
I was so eager to read about how a married couple who owned a zoo were able to protect Jews during the war by smuggling them into the zoo, that I was surprised when suddenly the book stated there were numerous Jews hiding at the zoo. How had this happened? I flipped back through the book, sure I had missed something, only to realize there had not been any lead up into this part of the book. While the author recounts the daring actions of zookeeper Jan in walking people out of the Ghetto while waving at the guards, she did not describe what happened to the people once outside the Ghetto. The disjointed manner of retelling actual events occurred through the book and took away from the truly amazing and daring actions of the zookeepers.
I became bored with the immense details about the war and about minor characters who made only a brief appearance. At times, the book read more like a history book for school rather than an interesting nonfiction account of the war. As there certainly was no shortage of material to be used in retelling the impact the zookeeper’s had on the lives of so many, I can only blame the author’s stark writing style for the book’s failure.
I would not recommend it.