Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Renia's Diary by Renia Spiegel and Elizabeth Bellak Review

Title: Renia’s Diary: A Holocaust Journal
Author: Renia Spiegel and Elizabeth Bellak
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction; Biography
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                The Holocaust has always been a period in history that I’ve enjoyed learning about, but never before have I read a primary source. I’m ashamed and sorry to admit that I’ve never read Anne Frank’s diary, either, but after reading Renia’s diary, I would like to! Renia’s diary is just that: the diary of a young woman named Renia, who was about to turn nineteen when she and more than sixty others were murdered by The Nazis. Translated by her surviving older sister, Elizabeth, this book was so moving, honest, and unbearably sad. I laughed, I wept, and despaired over Renia’s life, taken too soon, as well as the countless others who lost their lives in The Holocaust. Reading historical fiction is nothing like reading the real account of an actual person who lived through part of the event. This book ripped my heart out and broke it into pieces, and I’m so glad that Renia’s words and her life were not forgotten. I will never forget Renia, her words, and her life, taken all too soon. I loved this book, and I will never forget it; I will be seeking out more of these works, especially that of Anne Frank! Enlightening, heartbreaking, beautiful and honest, I loved this journal so much!

                Renia Spiegel is fourteen when the Nazis take over and occupy her beloved Poland. Missing her mother, sister, and father, she is staying with her grandparents while the war rages on. Just a young adult focusing on the future, Renia longs to be a poet and writer, as well as a wife and mother. She documents everything, no matter how small the detail: petty squabbles between her friends, the bright hope of first love and a new spring, missing her family members. But the shadow of the war and the Nazi takeover cast dark clouds over her optimistic and hopeful outlook, and as the book goes on, Renia doesn’t know how it all ends, but the readers do. This book was frank, honest, and moving, particularly the excerpts of the teen’s poetry. Seeing such promise, such a bright light snuffed out all too soon, was absolutely heartbreaking; more than once, I found myself in tears. I knew how it all ended and it was so very painful. At times it was hard to keep up, between Renia’s diary entries and the notes her sister added at the back, and I had to flip often to the end of the book to get full context. But nonetheless, despite some thoughts needing clarification, I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more first-person accounts of this heartbreaking, terrifying period in world history. The bottom line: Honest, rich with detail, and unspeakably moving, I loved Renia’s Diary, and I’m looking forward to reading more primary sources about this dark period in world history! Next on deck: Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee!

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