Born Survivors recounted the experiences of three women during World War II and their brave decisions to bear children while confined in concentration camps. As the title stated, this was a true tale of the women’s extraordinary courage, defiance, and hope. Told in alternating chapters, the author provided the familial background, love story, and ultimate roundup of Priska, Rachel, and Anka. Wendy Holden’s knowledge of the war and details of the ghettos and concentration camps where the women lived made this a very informative read.
And yet, it was not a captivating story like other memorable survivor’s stories, such as The Nazi Officer’s Wife and A Lucky Child. It is clear that Wendy Holden is a diligent journalist, but the book was brimming with too many facts that detracted from the biographical nature of the story. Less than half of the book actually focused on the women’s stories, and were told without much emotion. For example, while Holden was able to state exactly what the conditions were inside a given camp at a particular time, she didn’t elaborate too much on how the three women reacted to those conditions. When the women’s stories were given attention, it resulted in an unbelievable tale of determination and defiance. It is truly amazing that they were able to carry a child to term and that the child survived. There were also too many quotes from random peripheral people included in the book. I appreciated learning about the experience as a whole, but didn’t need their specific quotes to do so, which just made the story focus on too many people aside from the three women I thought I was reading about. The things the women overcame are far too numerous to recount, but they pushed through each day and fought for their children. Still, giving attention to all three women meant that an almost identical tale was told three different times and that was a but annoying.
Ultimately, the book lacked emotion and was not the biography I hoped to read. I barely made it through this and would recommend too many other books on this topic before this one.