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Prisoner B-3087 Book Review

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The 2014 YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) award-winning book, Prisoner B-3087, written by Alan Gratz is a story that will leave readers’ hearts aching with shock, horror, and sadness. This book is based on a true story by Ruth and Jack Gruener. This story is about a Jewish boy named Yanek, at the age of 13, who is taken to ten different Jewish concentration camps in a matter of three years but has a will to survive. The setting of the story is  during World War II, and the author does an amazing job telling the tale of a survivor from the Holocaust.

The story begins with Yanek and his Jewish family being forced by the Nazis to live in a building with many other Jewish families. The reason for this was because the Nazis were trying to clear out any other lands that were contaminated with Jews, or anyone else who didn’t praise Hitler, such as Gypsies, Poles, Soviets, and even prisoners. Soon after Yanek’s home was filled with other families, his parents and many others were taken into concentration camps, where prisoners were forced to work in brutal conditions with very little food or water and had to sleep with more than three people per cot. If the captives were sick or weak, they were immediately killed. After Yanek’s parents were taken away from him by the Gestapo, which was Nazi police, he was also taken to a camp called Plaszów. There he worked nonstop and had little to eat, therefore becoming weaker by the day. Later, he was transported to his second concentration camp. It was called the Wielickza Salt Mine, where prisoners would mine salt statues for the Nazis. When Yanek was 14, he went to the Trzebinia Concentration camp, which was the third camp he went to. The fourth camp that Yanek went to was called Birkenau during the end of 1944. It was then that he realized he had lost all his family and he didn’t have anything else to care for. He and others were sent to Birkenau to die in a gas chamber, but when he thought he would die right then and there, it turned out to be a cold shower. The year was 1945, and Auschwitz was the fifth camp that Yanek was sent to. Auschwitz was a horrible camp, but somehow, Yanek survived. Sometime later during 1945, Yanek and many other prisoners were sent on a death march. By then, he was 16 years old and still holding onto his life. After the death march, he was sent to the sixth concentration camp called Sachsenhausen. By then he was 17 years old and growing weaker and weaker by the day. The seventh, and final camp that Yanek was transferred to was called Dachau, and he was sure he would die there. One day during his time at Dachau, the camp was liberated by Americans, and the surviving prisoners there, including Yanek, were saved. The Americans took the remaining prisoners to their own safe camp, fed them, and gave them new clothing. One day, Yanek was taking a walk near the American camp, and after he was sure he had no family left, he saw his aunt and uncle, and reunited with them.

He then changed his name to Jack and moved to America. During the war, his aunt and uncle had been hiding a Jewish girl, and after she met Jack she changed her name to Ruth and moved to America also. Jack and Ruth both fell in love after they found each other again.

Overall, this true story had many details and shocking twists that will leave the reader wanting to read more. Many students will enjoy this book, finding it astonishing that it’s true. I highly recommend reading Prisoner B-3087.

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Prisoner B-3087 Book Review