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22 April, 2019

#BookReview :: The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin


One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.” At the hands of the powerful evil madman Adolf Hitler, families were ripped apart and millions were slaughtered. Persecution, torture, devastation, and enduring the unthinkable remained for those who lived. 
This is the story of one woman who lived to tell her story. This is a narrative of how a young beautiful teenager, Helen Stein, and her family were torn asunder, ultimately bringing her to Auschwitz. It was there she suffered heinous indignity at the hands of the SS. It was also there, in that death camp, she encountered compassion, selfless acts of kindness, and friendship. 
Written by the award-winning, best-selling author of His Name Was Ben, comes a story of the resilience of the human spirit that will leave you thinking about Helen Stein and The Seven Year Dress for years to come after the last page is shut. 


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I find the subject of holocaust to be fascinating and depressing at the same time. Every time I read a book that covers holocaust, whether real or fiction, it leaves me drained for days. The Seven Year Dress is the story of a real survivor presented in a fictional form.

The story starts with a young girl looking for accommodation and meeting Helen Stein. She feels that the questions asked by Helen were very personal and though she feels uncomfortable, she ends up renting from Helen. The readers then find out more about Helen who was born and brought up Germany in 1930s. She grew with love from her family and seeing hatred on the streets. This book is her journey from being a young carefree girl to ending up in Auschwitz.

The author has done an impeccable job of painting the character of Helen. The character grew through the book from a young soul to that of an old soul through her experiences. Through the protagonist, the author has painted a picture of what life was like for the common people and the Jews in that period.  What I liked the best about the book was the part in Auschwitz that portrays human bonds at its rawest form. The fact that there was hope and kindness in a camp like that is unnerving yet optimistic.

The author has also explored the idea that sexuality is a part of one’s identity with the backdrop of the war. On one hand, we see Helen’s rollercoaster journey taking her to places she couldn’t have imagined all the while growing into and accepting her sexuality irrespective of the situations that she was in. On the other hand, through her best friend we see the plight of a gay man during the Nazi reign.

The title of the book, which originally confused me in the beginning, comes from a dress that Max had gifted Helen. What that dress stood for and why it meant so much to Helen will be clear once you read the book and in turn help you understand the title. All in all, this was an interesting book to read. Depressing at times, this only goes to show how capable an author Paulette Mahurin is, it is a heavy book that needs to be given time and attention.


Review Copy received from the Author


This post is a part of A to Z Challenge and BlogchatterA2Z

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