The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron is one of the WWII books that I put aside because I had read too many books about concentration camps all at once. I needed to read about something, anything else. Well, I couldn’t wait any longer and I am so glad I didn’t as this is a fantastic book.
Adele is Austria’s sweetheart. She is the youngest member of the Austrian Philharmonic when the 3rdReich has taken over. She lives a very sheltered life and has no idea what true horrors the Reich is bringing to the rest of the world. She has heard rumors, but not many because her parents have protected her from all those horrible things. Her father is a general in the military and supports the Nazis and her mother seem to live in a world that doesn’t really exist.
Adele’s happy world is shattered the night she finds out what is really going on with the Nazis and the Jews. She then agrees to help try to get a family of Jews out of town. She is caught helping them and sent to Aushwitz where she becomes part of the woman’s orchestra. Her world is upside down and she is forced into a new reality, one that is, to say the least, difficult to understand and handle.
Kristy uses her books to show us some of the stories of Auschwitz. They may not be ones we have heard before, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important that the more familiar ones. At one time Adele struggles with having to get up in the morning to go play happy, cheerful music for the prisoners headed off to a brutal day of work. She wonders how she can continue doing that when she knows that many of them won’t return from the work detail just because they are starving to death.
It makes you wonder about the beauty that was produced in that concentration camp. Part of this book is a contemporary story about the search for the woman behind a painting that Sera has been familiar with since she was a young girl. Who would paint a picture of a prisoner, and why? Interesting. There are so many stories of what happened to certain people behind those fences that we may never know, but Kristy gives us a little glimpse of one of these stories.
I could go on and on as there is more than one thread running through this book. It makes you think about the families and what happened to them once they were feet on the ground in Auschwitz. Not knowing what happened to each other and how even those that were in the same prison camp had no idea if their family members were alive or dead. How to the Nazis it was so important to dehumanize the prisoners so they could break their will and make them easier to control.
Not a happy, easy book to read, but one that is so worth it.