Family, Historical Fiction

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

What drew me to this novel was that it is based on a true story. I love fiction and I will read pretty much any genre but when it comes to historical fiction, the more truth there is, the more I like it. The story line itself seemed quite intriguing, what with its gruesome portrayal of experimentation done on children in the name of science. I was very eager to read it and now, I am eager to give you my review!

In 1919, 4-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz lives in a small apartment with her parents and her older brother. But when tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother and sent to a Jewish orphanage, where she is subjected to experimentation by Dr. Mildred Solomon. The x-ray treatments leave her disfigured in more ways than one, and Rachel grows up suffering from the consequences both physically and emotionally. Years later, Rachel is a nurse at a Manhattan Care Home and comes face-to-face with Dr. Solomon, who is now elderly and cancer-striken. This is Rachel’s chance to confront the doctor and punish her for her wrongdoings. But as Rachel begins to take care of her new charge, she realizes that things may be more complex than she initially thought.

Although I liked the premise of this novel, it didn’t satisfy me as much as I had hoped. I loved the moral dilemma that Rachel was facing and I really enjoyed reading about the life Rachel had lived before, during, and after the experimentation that led to this culminating point in the novel. The complexity of the situation was aptly described and it made me rethink my own views on the situation. Revenge always seems simple when you first encounter a situation where you have been wronged, and it’s not often that one gets the chance to really delve deeper into the emotions and morals associated with revenge. This novel gives you that chance. That being said, the ending was too bittersweet for my taste. Β I felt like I wanted more for Rachel. The author had done such a good job portraying her character that I felt a kinship towards her and wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. And even though life doesn’t work out that way, I wanted it to. In a way, that’s a sign that this novel is fantastic in its ability to capture the reader’s attention and draw the sympathy of the reader for the protagonist. If you are looking for a good historical fiction, I would definitely recommend this one!

Happy reading!

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