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Saturday, October 17, 2015

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ARC Review: Hidden Gold by Ella Burakowski (A Fantastic Contribution to the Holocaust)

Hidden Gold Ella Burakowski

Hidden Gold
Ella Burakowski
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Second Story Press
Reviewer: Sophia

The Gold family finds their peaceful lives shattered when Poland is invaded by the Nazis during WWII.

It's 1942, and the Nazis are rounding up Jews in the Polish town of Pinczow for transport to the Treblinka death camp. Leib and Hanna Gold though they had more time to develop an escape plan. While Leib leaves to negotiate a hiding place, Hanna and their children, Shoshana, Esther, and twelve-year-old David, steal away in the night to find shelter with a family friend. Leib promises to join them in the morning, but when daylight breaks, Leib had vanished. Hanna must flee to a safer refuge or she and her children will perish.

So begins a true story of terror, suspense, and deplorable hardship that lasts more than two years. In a place where everyone is afraid, neighbors turn on neighbors, gentiles betray Jews, and Jews victimize each other, hoping to survive the Holocaust. David Gold's memories of his formative years during World War II are captured by his niece, author Ella Burakowski, in this heart-stopping testament to the human spirit.
Advance reading copy provided via Netgalley by Second Story Press – thanks!

I'm generally not a memoir person. But if I'm going to read a memoir (or even nonfiction), I'll choose anything about the Holocaust (I find that time period sadistically interesting).

Hidden Gold deserves about as much praise as Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. A story set in another part of Europe (Poland) during Hitler's reign, Burakowski tells us her family's survival, hidden away from society in the hopes that they won't be found out.

For two years, the Golds hid with the Lanskis in a small part of a barn in Kolkow, surviving with very little sustenance. During that time, their hope dwindles little by little, but the two families still cling on to their pasts, even if that life will be impossible to get back to after everything blows over.

I loved how Burakowski introduces us to her family and the people that the Golds were involved with, giving us lots of background information on how Leib met Hanna and how the Golds lived their life in the early parts of the war. Burakowski also gives us insight on the growing hypocrisy and horrors among society as Hitler's power and anti-Semitism grew, giving us visuals on how life was like for the Jews back in the late 1930s and early 1940s. We're also shown the inner turmoils going on with those who had good relations with Jews and now having to choose whether or not they should help Jews, or give in to the propaganda.

Shoshana, Hanna's daughter, is extremely admirable. She's willing to go out to the Germans, pretending to be one of them, to buy her family time. She is also willing to risk her life a few times to get her family's money from Pińczów, and going back again while she felt ill. If I were in her place, I'd probably continue to curl up in a fetal little ball. (Despite the fact I'm considered living in "poverty," I'm pretty much a lucky duckling. Also, being an only child, I'm probably a little spoiled.)

David is perhaps one of those where all the feels will come. Like any little kid, he's full of mischief and mayhem, but going through such a dark time at a really young age, he's extremely brave, confident, and has the most hope for the family getting out alive.

Although most of Hidden Gold is focused on the Gold's survival during Hitler running rampant with the final solution, Burakowski finalizes the story from David's viewpoint with how each of the family members were impacted years later in the future. For those interested in what happened in other parts of Europe or a survival story outside of concentration camps, Ella Burakowski's Hidden Gold makes a fantastic contribution depicting the horrors of the Holocaust.

5 Owls

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Sophia is the owner and founder of Bookwyrming Thoughts, but also found on various parts of the internet. She's a 19-year-old communications major who has weird humor and doesn't fit the Asian stereotype (maybe a little). Books, chocolate, technology, and music are among some of her favorite things. For more of her work, visit her personal website.