Cilka's Journey

Cilka's Journey

by Heather Morris


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From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on a riveting true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.


 Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250265708
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 45
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

HEATHER MORRIS is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

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Cilka's Journey 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
Noorpreet less than 1 minute ago
This book once again was incredibly amazing (as the title suggests) and heart-wrenching! I loved it so much! While reading this book I was feeling as if the incidents that Cilka went through should’ve happened to me instead because Cilka is just an amazing character and I felt incredibly sad for her. Right when I read the first page I felt so bad for Cilka because she never even thought that she would ever be free I’m her entire life. I am so lucky to not be living in a world like that, although we still have our own struggles and stories there are always people that are suffering and/or have suffered way more than you have or ever will. We should always consider other people as well instead of just being absorbed by our own problems. Anyways I incredibly loved this book! And I loved the cover a lot! Thank you so much for sending me this book!
cloggiedownunder 19 days ago
4.5★s “What you are doing, Cilka, is the only form of resistance you have – staying alive. You are the bravest person I have ever known, I hope you know that.” Cilka’s Journey is the second novel by Australian author, Heather Morris and is a sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, featuring one of the secondary characters from that story, Cecelia Klein (Cilka). When Russian soldiers liberated Birkenau in January of 1945, Cilka hardly dared believe her ordeal was over. And it seemed that it wasn't. The Russian agency overseeing the camp quoted from a report on Cilka stating that she collaborated with the Nazis (a position of privilege in a concentration camp, double-edged sword that it is, is bound to engender resentment). For this, she was found to be an enemy of the Russian state and a spy, and was sentenced to fifteen years’ hard labour, to be served at Vorkuta Gulag in northern Siberia. Even though she had already experienced much of what the were being subjected to, it seemed, at first, that each new day brought some fresh hell. Wary of doing anything that might set her apart as in Birkenau, Cilka hesitated when a doctor at the short-staffed hospital, impressed by her languages and her speed of learning, encouraged her to train there as a nurse. When she reluctantly agreed, she made sure to share any advantage her position gave her with the women in her hut. While Morris never got to interview Cilka the way she did Lale for the Tattooist of Auschwitz, her research is clearly extensive, and she explains in her notes that the story is fiction built on the bones of fact. War, like any adversity, brings out the worst and the best in people. Thus we see that these women, as prisoners of war and as political prisoners, are subjected to deprivation, cruelty and abuse; we also see that some go out of their way to show kindness and care to others. Morris touches on the murky subject of collaborators (and the stigma attached thereto) if indeed the behaviour of a sixteen year old Jewish girl in a concentration camp, in fear of her life, who is put into an unsolicited position of authority and has to endure regular sexual assault by German officers, could be ever be deemed, as Cilka’s was by the Russians, as collaboration. Could any of us say how we might act, put in the same position? What is clear is that Cilka was resilient and very courageous. A moving and thought-provoking read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and St Martin’s Press and Echo Publishing
paigereadsthepage 21 days ago
Having survived being the enslaved mistress of a powerful Nazi leader at Auschwitz, the story begins with Cilka charged as a collaborator, loaded on a train with other women, and taken to the now-notorious Vorkuta Gulag in 1945. After arriving at the work camp, her and the other women in her “hut” battle for trust, hope, and forgiveness. She finds herself, yet again, in a position where survival trumps ethics. Cilka grasps for a greater purpose after leaving behind her dark past and quickly finds herself in a position to work within the confines of the Gulag hospital. She struggles to justify some of the hospital policies but also questions her own intentions. Having discerned hope as only a barren illusion, Cilka takes the reader on a haunting and remarkable journey. Cilka’s account specifically centers around the treatment of women in a Soviet Gulag. The brutality, rape, and undernourishment are intense but are an essential part of the gulag experience for the women who were imprisoned there. Vorkuta Gulag resonated in maltreatment and violence, and the details are richly accounted for in this novel. Although this is the second novel for The Tattooist of Auschwitz, it easily works as a standalone. The author provides the background about what happened to Cilka very early on. Throughout the novel, flashbacks spanning from 1939-1945 give additional information about Cilka that was not included in the first novel, and each flashback is beautifully coated in irony. The location and date are noted above the flashbacks and each flashback is indicated by a page break and written in italics. A must read because not enough is written about the Gulags! I could not put this one down. The notes from Heather Morris at the end are a must. But do not read them before because they contain spoilers. HIGHLY RECOMMEND to fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz and historical fiction. This one is much darker than The Tattooist, but equally critical and a story that needs to be heard. Many thanks to St. Martin's Press, Heather Morris, and NetGalley for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
Shortcake5 3 hours ago
Cecilia Klein was sixteen years old when she was sent to Auschwitz- Birkenau. She was an innocent girl. We first meet “Cilka” when Gita starts working in the head office in Auschwitz. She and her hut friends befriend Cilka who is picked to be the focus of sexual desire, and rape, by the head of Auschwitz. The things she goes through is mind numbingly hard to fathom. After Reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I needed more the story didn’t feel complete. I, like so many others, wondered where did Cilka disappear to when she was separated from Gita And Lale during liberation. I mean it was like she just “poofed” out of the camp never to be heard from again. The poignancy between the “memories” from Auschwitz-Birkenau and Voltuka Gulag added to what we knew from Cilka’s story In The Tattooist of Auschwitz it is a powerful, heart rendering story of strength, bravery and shear will to live. The story is beautifully written, helping the reader to feel as if they were one of Cilka’s hut-mates. The imagery and the 6 senses that you encounter while reading is vivid, jarring and unexpected. It was emotionally hard at times to read. As a grandniece of a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau it cut me to the core with its realistic feel. Lale would be proud of how Ms. Morris tells his friend’s tale, I am thankful to Heather Morris for giving us Cilka’s story. The heartache of surviving three horrific years at Auschwitz- Birkenau and then being labeled as a spy and an enemy because of her forced upon sexually violent traumatic years there, and knowing so many languages would be terrifying. She goes through all that only to be sent to Siberia is wrenchingly painful. I can’t even imagine, However in true Cecilia Klein Fashion she perseveres. Thanks, Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book in lieu of an honest review.
Anonymous 7 hours ago
Anonymous 11 hours ago
This book woke me up. I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Just finished it but will not forget it. we must never forget.
Shirleymca 1 days ago
Strength from within. Although this book is fiction it is based on facts researched by the author concerning the people and conditions of Auschwitz and the Russian Gulag in Siberia. The facts are sad but believable considering what was done to the Jewish people and those that did not agree with Stalin's philosophy or were deemed spies for some reason or another, some of them very young. The story is about a young girl named Cilka and her time spent is both Auschwitz and in the Russian Gulag following. Think how it must have been for a sixteen year old girl separated from her family in the concentration camp and trying to stay alive, trying to help her sister and her friends. It brought tears when she had to put her mother on the truck to take her to be burned in the Auschwitz crematorium ovens. As if that was not enough when the Russians came and liberated the camp of Auschwitz she was questioned and sent to prison for sleeping with the Nazi's. This was hard to think of as she had no choice in what she did in the camps, do as told or die. Nevertheless she was eventually sent to a Russian Gulag where she was sentences to 15 years hard labor. She was 18 years old now surviving for 3 long years in Auschwitz. The crux of the story surrounds her time and survival in the Russian Gulag with flashbacks to the German camp. She is lost at first but makes friends with the other prisoner's in the hut she is housed in, especially a 15 year old girl named Jose. She is a strong woman and with no regards to her well being she protects the best of her ability her friends especially her young friend. A woman doctor in the hospital takes her under her wing and helps her with a job in the hospital instead of working in the mines. While horrible things happen to her and other's in the Gulag she stays strong and focuses on the good that she can do to help other's in the hospital and on the ambulance. She throws herself into her job in order to not think about the horrible conditions of the camp and the awful treatment of the prisoner's there. When given the chance to leave by the Commandant's wife she asks for the release of her friend Jose instead. One day while on an ambulance run a young man she has a crush on but has never talked to is beaten and left for dead. She takes him to the hospital and helps him live. In the process she falls in love with him and he falls in love with her. She never thought this could ever happen to her. Although the book has some sad moments, the rapes of the women, the starving with the thin soup and hard bread and the back breaking work in the mines, it also shows the good in people. The other prisoner's in her hut, the doctors that help her. The women make it a home by embroidering doilies form threads from the ends of their sheets, they look out for each other and they become like a family in the midst of a horrible situation they find a way to make this situation just a bit better. I liked the way the author humanizes the characters and the way that the descriptions are clear and sometimes brutal but true for the situation. I think that the explanation of the Gulags and the research is very informative and a valuable part of the book. I did not read the first book but this book stands alone and I enjoyed reading it, I learned so much I did not know before. Every time I read a different book on WWII and the Holocaust I learn something new. I still will never understand why the Nazi's were so cruel and why the sovie
Anonymous 2 days ago This book...I just finished it and I feel like I have a book hang over. Cilka is a character from The tattooist of Aushwitch. This book was loosely based on her life, taking place mostly after World War 2. I naively did not know about this time in history in the Soviet Union. It was an incredibly hard read to know that what happened to people after the War. But very important. I highly recommend this book 5 stars. Thank you @netgalley for the ARC. When this becomes an audible, I will be buying it for my husband to listen to. This book will not leave my thoughts for long time...
Anonymous 4 days ago
In 1942, Cilka Klein is only sixteen years old when she arrives Auschwitz-Birkenau a concentration camp, she and her sister Magda have spent days standing up in a packed train. The Commandant at Birkenau, Schwarzhuber, notices how pretty she is, and she's quickly separated from the other female prisoners. Cilka becomes the Commandants sex slave, she has no choice, no rights and she endures years of his abuse. Finally the camp is liberated, Cilka has been through years of hell, she has lost her family, she's witnessed terrible acts of inhuman cruelty and she's been sexually abused. Unlike the other Auschwitz camp survivors she hasn't been starved to death, so physically she's in better shape, she's also bilingual she can understand and speak in many different languages. The Russians consider Cilka a traitor, she's charged as a collaborator, she's been sleeping with the enemy and she's sent to a prison camp in Siberia called Vorkuta. In a Siberian prison camp, Cilka faces challenges that are now shockingly familiar, being humiliated yet again, having her head shaved, fumigated, waiting in endless lines, eating slop with no cutlery, it's freezing cold, the pecking order among inmates and the unwanted attention of men. Cilka knows she has two choices, one is to find a protector or camp "husband" and the other? She faces being abused by multiple men, her choice is Boris her camp husband, she tolerates him, he's the best of a bad bunch and yet again her body is being used. Cilka soon makes a good impression on the camp doctor with her quick thinking, first aid skills and Dr Yelena Georgiyevena takes under her wing. Cilka begins working in the camp hospital, she's a natural at caring for people and despite what has happened to her she is still compassionate and kind. Cilka suffers from terrible nightmares, she still caries the shame and heavy burden of her past. By helping the sick and injured she finds a reason to keep going as she has years to serve stuck in a Russian prison and she's not going to last long working outside in the harsh weather conditions. Cilka's Journey, is a story about one young woman's fight to survive, her will to continue living and she does despite the odds. Imagine how she felt after surviving Auschwitz, she should be finally safe, instead she's judged, punished and abused over and over again. I enjoyed The Tattooist Of Auschwitz but Cilka's Journey was brilliant, I read it in one day, and gave it five stars.
lsmoore_43 4 days ago
CILKA’S JOURNEY by Heather Morris The first thing I have to say about this book is it will without a doubt make you weep deep hard ugly heartfelt tears. If it doesn’t you don’t have a heart or empathy for anyone. It’s a very sad but also true story of a young girl, Cilka,who had more compassion, love, honor, selflessness, heart, grit and the gift to give than anyone I have ever read about. This is also the first book I have ever read about someone who was in a concentration camp then prison for being in said camp. I’ve seen a couple of movies about concentration camps and the Nazi hells, but this is the first book. It’s a hard one for sure. It’s so well written and so emotional. You feel the pain of this young girl. What she went through and endured at the hands of men who thought of a race as property. Thought they were not worthy of living. This is the sequel to THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ but can be read as a stand alone. Thank goodness because right now I don’t believe I could handle reading the TATTOOIST. This book takes you into the depths of a hell that a girl lived through. I have to admit I’m not at all sure I would have survived. She was given choices that kept her alive. To down her for accepting these choices is awful. For anyone to say that these people had choices has no idea what living in hell is like. This book makes you feel like you were there. At least it did me. It was beyond anything I could ever imagine happening yet it did. One day you are a child worrying about getting your license to drive and the next you are dragged away from everything you ever knew and treated like you are the lowest form of life. Cilka was such an inspiration. She was such a king young woman/child. She had a chance to leave and gave it to her friend and that friends child. She did these things many times. Put others before herself. She was forced to sleep with officers in charge in Auschwitz. Raped. Then she was sent to prison for conspiring with the enemy for being a survivor. For choosing to live instead of giving up and dying. She did what she had to do. She found happiness after so much hardship. She learned that she was not a horrible person for things she did that was out of her control. She found love and lived. Cilka was a very strong person whom I admire greatly. This book was so well written. It was so well put together. At the end of this book keep reading. Read the NOTE FROM HEATHER MORRIS thru the very end of the book. You will learn even more about this amazing author and what research she put into this book. I’m so happy that I read every single word even though I had to lay this book down several times and get up and walk around because of weeping so hard. This is truly a great read. Sad yes. Very very sad but it’s one that I think everyone should read. Everyone should know what happened. Thank you #NetGalley and #StMartin’sPress for the honor of reading this book. Also to Heather Morris for researching and writing this book. I would give this book a million stars if I could. It’s definitely a 5 kleenex and 5 star book that I highly recommend.
CrossroadReviews 5 days ago
This was a totally amazing title about one women's journey though her life from concentration camp to prison and everything in between. This story is so full of loss, suffering, life, heartbreak, love, hope, and more that it was hard to get through at times. It just comes off as someone's real life versus fiction. And I wonder if it was based on someone. Its one of those titles that you take your time with and you don't rush it. Those who love historical fiction as well as stories about WWII will enjoy this one. This story will take you on an emotional ride that will devastate you by the last pages. The writing is beautiful and the story is moving.
Jolie 6 days ago
I usually do not read books that are based on real events. I have found that my knowledge of the event overshadowed the book. I couldn’t help but compare what happened to what was going on in the book. I would almost always end up disappointed in the book. Then I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which is the first book in this series. I was taken away by Lale’s story. Cilka was introduced in this book. She was a mysterious and enigmatic character. I wondered what happened to her at the end of the book. What I read in Cilka’s Journey broke my heart. Cilka was a child when she caught the attention of The Commandant. Which sickened me in the first book. In this book, I was still sickened. What he did to Cilka in those years was heartbreaking. But, it was what happened after Auschwitz was released that broke my heart. Cilka was found to be a Nazi collaborator because the Russian Army found out that she was sleeping with The Commandant. Instead of earning her freedom, she was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in Siberia. I was outraged when I read that. She was traumatized at a young age, forced to watch friends and family die/killed, and then, instead of being able to heal, she was retraumatized on top of that. I know that I am making a big deal about Cilka’s age in this book. She was 16 when she was sent to Auschwitz. She was around 20 when she was sent to Siberia. She suffered trauma after trauma in Auschwitz. So, yes, I was shocked when the Russian Army sent her to Siberia. She was forced to do what she had to survive, which mean becoming a camp wife of a soldier. I can’t tell you how that affected me. The abuse shook me. She suffered in both places. There were points where I wanted to hug her, take her away, and get her therapy. The prison camp in Siberia was as bad as Auschwitz. But, and stress this, the prisoners could leave, if they survived to the end of the sentences. It was an awful place to live. Disease and violence were rampant. To my knowledge, I don’t think that I have read a book that takes place in one. I have heard of them and have seen them mentioned in books. Cilka’s Journey was not an easy read. There were times I had to put the book down and walk away because I was that disturbed by it. The emotional impact that it had on me lasted days after I read it. The end of Cilka’s Journey was informative. The author included a note about Cilka and her life after the prison camp. While the characters portrayed in the prison camp were fictional, the camp itself wasn’t. The author explained what happened to it and when it closed down.
Anonymous 7 days ago
I haven't read the first book yet, but this one works as a stand alone book. It is a very moving story based on a real woman who endured so much trauma and pain, but still helped others as much as possible. It was a very moving and emotional story.
BrittanyS 7 days ago
I did not read 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' and can not compare or connect the two books. I don't feel like I needed to have read the other book to understand this one. This book is called Cilka's Journey and that's exactly what is portrayed- it's a telling of her journey. There is no major plotline, mission, or problem to solve other than recounting the years that Cilka spent in a Russian gulag for her 'crimes.' It is not for the faint of heart. The hardships she endures include rape and violence. It is hard to read, and yet, it is important, whether the author took liberties with Cilka's life or not. I, for one, had not heard of these gulags and was enlightened to millions of lives lost under Stalin's authority, and the kind of inhuman treatment he ordered/allowed. But Cilka's resilience is inspiring. I don't like giving a three star rating to a book about such tender matters, and it is not given for the story. It's probably just because I've read so many books like this recently that this one just didn't rise above those. The book description indicates there is an aspect of love story, but that doesn't really get started until 80% into the book. It's very much a description of day to day life over the course of her 8 years at the prison. It feels wrong to say that I was bored, but in all honesty, that's what I felt. I typically prefer books that have more of a plot. I'm not sure I'll read The Tattooist of Auschwitz at this point. But if you liked that one, then I'm guessing this one is right up your alley!
Alfoster 7 days ago
Who could not love this novel? I was worried as I had not read the first one, but there was plenty of background given so I didn't feel like I missed anything. And as always, books about this time period just blow me away as I had friends when we visited my grandparents in Indiana (I was probably 8 or so) whose own parents had survived the Holocaust. Of course I didn't understand it then, but I figured something was strange when I saw the ink on their wrists and my girlfriends had to study Hebrew and couldn't see me on the weekend. Now as an adult, I am shocked and so saddened to realize what their lives were like. So Cilka's "journey" was both heartbreaking and heartwarming as we see her resilience and hope in undergoing and overcoming the horrors that plagued that era. Get the tissues ready! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
LibMom 7 days ago
Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris follows a young woman who literally goes from one hellish experience directly to another. In brief, Cilka, a young Jewish woman, survived the horrors of Auschwitz only to find herself in the Soviet Gulag prison camps in Siberia. However, she is a survivor and endures all of the mistreatment that is endemic to both camps. As the camps were horrific, hard places, the story is hard. Morris does not sugarcoat these experiences. The language is at times coarse and the book does not hide the frequent instances of rape the women of the hut endure nightly. These items are necessary in order for the reader to fully grip how difficult Cilka's life was. Cilka's Story is the sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I have not yet read the earlier book (although I certainly intend to!) but found I was easily able to jump into the story. Author Heather Morris provides enough background for those who are meeting Cilka for the first time as well as sufficient connections to the earlier book to tie them together. An amazing aspect of this book is that it is based on a true story. Morris provides information on the research she did concerning the real-life Cilka and a brief synopsis of her life after the book. Knowing that this wasn't just fiction but real makes this story even more memorable. Readers who enjoy World War II fiction or other historical fiction will enjoy this book. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Cilka's Journey via NetGalley.. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Shoeguru 7 days ago
When Cilka is transferred from a concentration camp to a Siberian work camp, she is only 16 years old and has already went through things that any person would struggle to deal with. She is assigned to a hut and builds a family from the women that she is surrounded by. She feels like she must hide her past from these women since she was kept by the enemy at her past camp and feels that they will hate her because of it. Despite all odds being against her, she is able to rise up with the help of a Dr that she becomes close to and learns to provide nursing care for many different populations and facets. She is initially trained on the ward and then moves onto obstetrics, surgery, and running the ambulance. The sheer strength of Cilka is astounding and I love that this is based on a true story.
rlhendrick 8 days ago
This is a follow up to the The Tattooist of Auschwitz involving the character Cilka, based on a real person. Although I hadn't read the previous book, I will definitely read it now although it is not necessary as this book stands alone. Cilka was a survivor of Auschwitz when she was 16. She stayed alive by being the "mistress" of a Nazi commandant. She does whatever she has to to stay alive and survive. After the camp is liberated, she is convicted of collaboration with the Nazis and is sentenced to 15 years in a Siberian prison camp. She has to learn again how to stay alive and try to carve out a life for herself. She becomes a nurse at the camp and meets people who will change her life forever. This is an excellent book and I found myself cheering for Cilka one minute and crying for her another. Please read the author's note and Afterword that is included at the end of the book. It has a wealth of information about Cilka and her life after the prison camp and the history of the prison camps. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
BonMaimeo 8 days ago
The horrific conditions people underwent at both the concentration camps and gulags has me feeling overwhelmed and sad. Those that survived are heroes in my eyes. To find ways to survive by finding jobs that keeps them one step away from dying makes them courageous and strong in my opinion. I thought the author did a great job at giving us a look at life in the camps or gulags. It's definitely an emotional read. This book is based on a true story and the information about some of the individuals in the back of the book gave me more appreciation for their life.
Caroldaz 8 days ago
This was a beautiful and inspiring story, based on fact. Cilka, at the young age of 16, in 1942, was sent to a concentration camp. She was beautiful and noticed by the higher authority. She survived by doing whatever she had to do because it also gave her a chance to help the other women in the camp. After the end of the war, she was not freed as she was accused of being a collaborator with the enemy and was sent to serve 15 years hard labor. Cilka proved to be selfless, always looking to serve others who were suffering. She gave up many chances to be better off in order to make things better for someone else. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Anonymous 8 days ago
What happens when you write a story of what happens after Auschwitz? As we all know or are familiar with, WWII was a horrendous time in history that everyone should know and read about. History does NOT need to repeat itself and what better way than to read and familiarize ourselves with history. Unfortunately, not a lot has been written about what happened to some of the prisoners After. And in Cilka's case, her fight against evil wasn't over. She was sent to a Soviet Gulag. A working camp. After staying alive through Auschwitz (which was a war in itself). Still a prisoner, but she had to work long hours under horrific conditions. Her fight was to stay alive. That was how she was going to win. This time in history has always held a special interest to me. To see the fight in these women and men and love they had for their fellow prisoners absolutely astounds me. While they were taken away from everything they knew, they still fought in their own way. And there was no wrong way in these people's case. I read this book before The Tattooist of Auschwitz and feel it's 100% a standalone. I'm sure reading The Tattooist will only enhance your experience of this book, but it's not needed. We get enough background of Cilka's past that we get to understand where she came from and what she went through. And it's not pretty. But she is one to survive and love and be selfless in a time when she needed to only really worry about herself. You will feel for her and her bunkmates. Even when you shouldn't. You will understand their actions. The characters come alive right off the page and I could feel the light and the darkness and cold right along with them. And it wasn't pretty. It literally chills you to the bone when you read about their experiences. This story was mostly true, but there are some part Ms Morris had to take liberties with making this a historical fiction. If you read the afterword and the author's notes, I have a feeling this book will hit you that much harder. Just don't read it before you read the actual book. There will be lots of spoilers. A wonderfully written story of love, survival, friendship and the ultimate fight. The human spirit is stronger than you can even imagine. And this story shows it. Cilka is my hero and was to many around her as well. I hope she felt and saw that in her life. 4.5 stars
DressedToRead 9 days ago
The sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. This is the story of Cilka, which is based on the real life of Cecília Kováčová. She was a 16 year old character from book #1 The Tattooist of Auschwitz . She was a forced sex slave of a Nazi SS commandant. I read this one as a fictional story as I'm not sure which parts are factual. Either way, her story is gripping, compelling and utterly heartbreaking. I loved Cilka's strength and courage. Every day was a struggle with new obstacles and little hope, but her instinct for survival was strong. We follow Cilka as she is charged as a collaborator by the Russian government. She is sent to the gulags in Siberia. It was hard to read about how dire and horrific the prisoners were treated. I was invested in her story and pulling for her to make it through. A compelling historical fiction novel with a character who felt very "real" to me and one I'll remember.
ARC_Reviewer 9 days ago
This is an extraordinary book and I am privileged to have had the opportunity to review it. Cilka's Journey is the story of Cilka Klein, and is both the physical journey from her family, to Auschwitz, to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia and finally home to Czechoslovakia. It is also the story of the personal/emotional journey along the way losing family and friends, personal suffering and watching the suffering of others. Cilka is remarkably resilient and survives both journeys but compromises herself along the way to stay alive. The book is both well written and well researched. I did not read the Tattoist of Ausschwitz before Cilka's Journey, but this book stands well on it's own. I'd have to say that when I have the time, I'll have to go back and read the Tattoist of Ausschwitz to complete the story. While reading this book, I've come to believe that historical fiction is an important part of our literature. While Cilka's is real, the name of her husband has been changed to protect the identity of his descendants, but the book tells such an important part of our world history during the 40s and 50s. I'd almost rather see the Tattoist of Ausschwitz and Cilka's Journey used in High School History rather than the dry history books that are probably used today. Many years ago I read Solzhenitsyn's work, remembering mostly Gulag Archipelago and The First Circle. Solzhenitsyn is obviously important to Russian history and Russian literature, with Gulag Archipelago overlapping in time with Cilka's Journey. Although Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, I will always remember Cilka's Journey more for the story it tells of developing the Communist state. Telling the story of one person tells the story of all. Morris has produced one such masterpiece. Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martins and especially the author to read and review this book.
Carolina Herdegen 9 days ago
Language: R (14 swears, 23 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13 Auschwitz should have been the worst of it. Cilka should be grateful that time is behind her. But moving from one hell to another isn’t much cause to celebrate. Now in a Siberian labor camp, Cilka has to face the same choice she lives with the shame of making in Auschwitz: will she fight to live or let herself die? I hate to say that this book was beautiful and I love it because of the true cruelty of things that were done during and after WWII, but I don’t know what else to say. Morris made the tragedy and harsh realities beautiful as she shared truth and fiction of what did and could have happened in Cilka’s suffering through back-to-back injustices. Reading and knowing that the challenges faced by Cilka and those around her were real situations faced by real people made their story both harder and more necessary to read. This is a story of strength, endurance, and love. This book is only marked “optional” because of the frequent use of the f-word, otherwise I would have marked it “advisable.” The mature content rating is for frequent mentions of rape; the violence rating is for gore from fights, mining accidents, and work in a hospital.
Kelsey Bickmore 12 days ago
This was an engrossing novel! While this book may not be all true, it is based on real events and is very well written. I really enjoyed going along with Cilka as went from the Auschwitz-Birkenau to being sentenced to Vorkuta Gulag after being accused of colluding with the Nazis. Hers is a complicated story, because of her beauty Cilka is claimed by the powerful and that is how she ends up at the Gulag. Life is hard there but she is able to try and do some good when she ends up working at the prisoner hospital and also taking care of the babies that are born there. The hospital stuff was pretty fascinating and really showed Cilka's kindness and generosity. There is a lot of emotion in this story and you can see how Cilka works things out based on her previous experiences at the concentration camp. This is a really good book to go along with Heather Morris' previous novel, The Tatooist of Auschwitz.