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@Read Epub õ Playing for the Commandant ⛏ A young Jewish pianist at Auschwitz, desperate to save her family, is chosen to play at the camp commandant s house How could she know she would fall in love with the wrong boy Look after each other and get home safe And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us These are Hanna s father s parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp Her father s words and a black C sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress are all that she has left to remind her of life before Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance And she was going to dance with a boy But then the Nazis came Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests Staying alive isn t supposed to include falling in love with the commandant s son But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret And war makes you do dangerous things In spring 1944, Hungary was occupied by German soldiers and in the city of Debrecen, a ghetto was formed at the end of April Thinking her family was lucky because their apartment fell within the walls of the ghetto, Hanna Mendel continued to believe she would be able to attend Budapest Conservatorium of Music, where she had just been selected for a hard won place as a piano student.But in the middle of a night in June 1944, a knock on the door by officers informed them that the Mendel family, p In spring 1944, Hungary was occupied by German soldiers and in the city of Debrecen, a ghetto was formed at the end of April Thinking her family was lucky because their apartment fell within the walls of the ghetto, Hanna Mendel continued to believe she would be able to attend Budapest Conservatorium of Music, where she had just been selected for a hard won place as a piano student.But in the middle of a night in June 1944, a knock on the door by officers informed them that the Mendel family, parents, high spirited, defiant older sister Erika and Hanna, 15, was ordered to assemble outside the synagogue at 8 the next morning Before leaving, Hanna rips the C sharp from her beloved piano and takes it with her The next morning the Mendels, along with all of Debrecen s Jews, begin their long trip to Auschwitz Birkenau Concentration Camp.Once they arrive at Auschwitz, the family is split up, but luckily Hanna, Erika and their mother are able to stay together in the same barrack, even sharing a bunk Put to work in the quarry, one day Hanna sees her music teacher playing piano with an ensemble made of up inmates and called the Birkenau Women s Orchestra Piri thinks that maybe she can get Hanna a place in it.When that doesn t work out, Hanna is sent to audition with five other inmates for the camp s cruel commandant Believing she doesn t stand a chance at being chosen, the commandant leave the choice to his totally disinterested son, Karl Jager, who points to Hanna.Day after day, Hanna trudges to the commandant s house to await the order to play for him and any guests he may have The only perks to playing for the commandant is a warm shower everyday the commandant detests dirt , shoes, a warm coat and a warm house while she s there The only extra food is leftovers she must steal and risk getting caught and shot.Gradually, however, she discovers that Karl Jager harbors his own dangerous secrets and is not as disinterested or as indifferent as she originally thought When he treats her kindly, Hanna finds herselfandattracted to him But returning to the barrack at the end of each day, she sees that her mother and Erika are cold, starving and barely surviving To make matters worse, her mother, who had started going mad during the roundup in Debrecen, is havingandtrouble surviving the selections each time they are done Their one hope is that the Red Army is really moving east as rud around the camp and that they arrive in time Playing for the Commandant is certainly a very readable book I read it in one day It is told in the first person by Hanna, a very observant 15 year old and on many levels her voice rings true Her descriptions of the camp, of the cruelty inflicted on innocent people are spot on When she talks about the lice, the smells, the moldy bread or about how skeleton thin her sister and the other women are becoming, you can clearly see and smell what she is describing.Despite everything, Hanna a father had told her to survive at any cost to tell the world what happened to the Jews of Europe and so, she is determined to do what her father wanted.But when she talks about the danger of stealing scraps of leftover food, or of living under the pressure of always having to please the commandant, Hanna s fate feels just as capricious or dangerous as her fellow inmates For example, when the gardener, a Jew, steps on the grave of the commandant s dog, he is shot in the head for it But, when a girl at the commandant s house drops a tray with tea and cakes on it, I thought for sure that when she is removed from the house, she is also killed, but she shows up later, and I have to admit, I was surprised to see her again in the novel But, Hanna s growing romance with Karl is very most disturbing and a real flaw in the novel I guess I thought Hanna should be thinkingabout food than a boy She didn t get that muchto eat than her sister, and what she got, she shared with Erika Also, at one point, Hanna gets angry at the people, ordinary farmers, who watch her walk to and from the commandant s house every day and do nothing I got mad at Karl for being against what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, but who passively sits by and watches it all happen I would be curious to know how others feel about this part of an otherwise good novel Yet, despite this criticism, in the end, I thought that Playing for the Commandant is definitely worth reading for its message of survival and hope, but not for its gratuitous romance.This book is recommended for readers age 12 This was an EARC received from NetGalleyThis review was originally posted at The Children s War The wrong boyis not a fitting title for this novel neither is the synopsisThe story of a Jewish girl sent to Auschwitz with her family She falls in love with the wrong boy the German son of the camp commanderYes, it s a novel about star crossed lover This time it s between a Jewish Hungarian girl and a German boy It does seem a bit wrong in a way as if the holocaust was a tragedy rather than a great atrocity I wish the author gave a second thought about the title It doesThe wrong boyis not a fitting title for this novel neither is the synopsisThe story of a Jewish girl sent to Auschwitz with her family She falls in love with the wrong boy the German son of the camp commanderYes, it s a novel about star crossed lover This time it s between a Jewish Hungarian girl and a German boy It does seem a bit wrong in a way as if the holocaust was a tragedy rather than a great atrocity I wish the author gave a second thought about the title It does not give the book enough justiceThe wrong boydoesn t solely revolve around the camp commander s son As for the historical accuracy, concerning how life was in a concentration camp in Poland, it isn t anything you couldn t discover by simply going on Wikipedia I thought it satisfactorily conveyed the emotions of the characters, but of course I can t be the judge of that I don t think anyone can simply understand the emotions of those unfortunate people thrown in a concentration camps in World War IIHanna Mendel liked to know what was going to happen next She was going to be a famous concert pianist She was going to wear her yellow dress to the dance on Saturday night But she didn t plan on her street being turned into a ghetto She didn t plan on being rounded up and thrown in a cattle truck She didn t plan on spending her sixteenth birthday in Auschwitz, in a wooden barrack with two hundred other prisonersHanna is na ve, but she also has a strong optimistic side to her that makes her endearing As for the love interest, Karla Jaeger, there was no denying he was also an endearing character and the way his compassion and sympathy was presented made him very likable Although this book does give the impression of being mainly a love story, it actually very strongly focuses on Hanna s relationship with her mother, father, and especially with her older sister Overall, I would recommend this, but it surely isn t anything impressive for a historical fiction However, it s heart warming or as heart warming a book about the holocaust can be Holocaust books always make me want to cry And yet I persist reading them Why Because they re history Because history shouldn t be forgotten Because terrible things have happened and shouldn t ever happen again The author said this in her author s note at the back I don t pretend to know how it felt to be imprisoned in Birkenau I don t think anyone who wasn t there can ever really understand But it s important to try Reading history books and memoirs, talking about the Holocaust and w Holocaust books always make me want to cry And yet I persist reading them Why Because they re history Because history shouldn t be forgotten Because terrible things have happened and shouldn t ever happen again The author said this in her author s note at the back I don t pretend to know how it felt to be imprisoned in Birkenau I don t think anyone who wasn t there can ever really understand But it s important to try Reading history books and memoirs, talking about the Holocaust and writing about it is the best way to stop it from happening again The Wrong Boy is a beautifully written novel It s filled with music and sadness and an accidental love It s filled with the horrors of what happened to the millions of Jews that were imprisoned in war camps not to work , as everyone thought, but to be killed It s about Hanna, who plays piano One day, she would have been a famous pianist But Hitler destroyed her family, her world, her life This is her story The author has a clear voice While the voice of the novel isn t bursting with extreme emotion, the plot, characters and dialogue come across with striking power and clarity The description is perfect not too much, not too little Of course being a pianist myself I love the musical angle I love how Hanna carried a C sharp note which she pried from her piano at home before being sent to the prison camp and her sister took photos and hid the film So people would know what Hilter did to them I love the strong family bond touches The author brought you into her world with a flick of a word and, when Hanna sits at the piano in the Commandant s house, to play or die, I can see her agony The novel is very historically correct The little details, added in without huge emphasis, really make this story It has so many layers love, horror, war, fear, escape, pride The themes are woven in and out without preaching or pointing fingers And the twists They re perfect There are places to cry and laugh and sneer and screech and cringe and feel so overwrought with the horror of the Holocaust That saying, the detail isn t extreme It s written simply, but the description is definitely there, gritty and horrible alright It s just not written overpowering and grotesque The author managed to say so much by saying just a little That is a quality I stand in pure awe of.My only question came in relation to the dialogue I m all for historical books not being written in a dry, no contractions anywhere, very correct voice I don t mind it, but I do like the lighter,relatable dialogue mimicking though not extremely so how we speak today The Wrong Boy had a nice balance But there were times when I think the author veered too modern Erika Hanna s older sister says, Screw you, Hitler And there are a few other references like that With the rest of the book being so historically sound, I think that detracted from it The love story half is sad and sweet and doomed Not overdone Not underdone Karl the German Commandant s son is every bit the gallant young man, trapped by a father and people that he doesn t agree with He sees everything He does everything While Hanna sees him as indifferent, shy, and moody at first, everything changes when she realizes he cares about Jews He knows them by name He saves her life a few times when she makes some dire mistakes on the piano and gradually the start to fall in love It s so sad Right from the beginning While this story didn t leave me as haunted thank goodness as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, it is definitely a tale to be remembered Sad Sombre Sweet Cruel Truth Hanna Mendel has a dream to follow in the footsteps of her musical muse, Clara Schumann, the celebrated German pianist Hanna is only fifteen, and already her musical talents have seen her debut at the Debrecen Town Hall and play at the Goldmark Hall By eighteen, Hanna hopes to shadow Clara and be playing to sell out crowds in Viennathen Hitler and the war came to Hungary, and everything changed.Hanna and her family have been living in a ghetto sectioned off with other Juden Jews , and Hanna Mendel has a dream to follow in the footsteps of her musical muse, Clara Schumann, the celebrated German pianist Hanna is only fifteen, and already her musical talents have seen her debut at the Debrecen Town Hall and play at the Goldmark Hall By eighteen, Hanna hopes to shadow Clara and be playing to sell out crowds in Viennathen Hitler and the war came to Hungary, and everything changed.Hanna and her family have been living in a ghetto sectioned off with other Juden Jews , and slowly their world began to alter Her non Jewish friends stopped talking to her at school Her father, a talented watch maker, had his business close down The Mendel family have tried to cope in these trying times of war Hanna, her father, mother and older sister, Erika all living day to day within the confines of the ghetto These are difficult times to be Jew, but so long as the family has each other, they should be fine.One night the ghetto is evacuated Everyone is told to pack a bag and enough food to last three days The Jews are being taken to a work camp Hanna and her family leave their apartment, their valuables and small mementos behind save for a C sharp black key from Hanna s beloved piano They will be there when they come back, when this war endsBut no one is prepared for the journey before them.All the Jews are herded into cattle trains made to stand for days on end while the train clambers along the countryside, taking them to Poland and Auschwitz Birkenau.At Auschwitz Hanna, Erika and their mother are separated from their father with a flick of his cane, Josef Mengele sends healthy workers to the right, while the children, elderly and infirm are sent to the left and never seen again The women are stripped, shaved and tattooed Hanna is now A10573, and put to work in the quarry like everyone else But it quickly becomes apparent that the Auschwitz slogan Arbeit macht frei work sets you free is a cruel taunt Everyone works for mouldy bread and muddied water Block leaders whip and beat the women if they so much as look at them the wrong wayAuschwitz is no work camp, Hanna decides, rather it is a place of death.And then a miracle Auschwitz commandant, Captain Jager, needs a pianist He will be holding an audition for one girl to be his entertainment when he wines and dines guests This is a mixed blessing the lucky pianist will be alone in Jager s home and able to steal scraps of food and have a respite from the back breaking quarry work But Jager s last pianist lost a finger when she hit the wrong key, and to be caught stealing means a bullet to the head.Hanna is successful and wins the audition and it is in Jager s house, playing for his SS officer friends, that Hanna first sees Karl, Jager s son What starts as contempt for the beautiful boy turns into something , something dangerous and forbidden The Wrong Boy is the new young adult novel from Australian author Suzy Zail I first heard about Suzy Zail s novel from Adele, of Persnickety Snark fame Then I was told that Ms Zail had attended the same RMIT Writing Editing course as me, and that a couple of my friends were mentioned in her Acknowledgements So, long before I actually read the book, I was excited for all the whispers of brilliance, and because the blurb was thoroughly intriguing And now that I have devoured the novel, I must say that all the advance praise is utterly deserved The Wrong Boy is a beautifully crushing read, and I hope it gets nominated for a few young adult literary awards in 2012.From 1933 to 1945, six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust though this is a rough estimate, since it s impossible to precisely know the extent of the slaughter Of the six million, it is again roughly estimated that 450,000 Hungarian Jews perished And in Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp alone, over one million Jews were murdered Suzy Zail s story is somewhat inspired by her father who, she explains in her author s note, was sent to Auschwitz when he was just thirteen years old She has previously written a book about how her father survived the Holocaust, titled The Tattooed Flower , but The Wrong Boy is a work of fictionbased around a tragic and dark moment in human history The Wrong Boy is a tough read, and so it should be Many times I had to put the book down, unable to read through my tears But by the last page I was ready to sell this novel on street corners I m already imploring friends to borrow my copy, and I intend to tell my aunt to recommend the book to her students she is of Austrian descent, and a German language teacher at a Melbourne high school This novel left me raw, but I m bloody glad I read it.Through Hanna s eyes, Suzy Zail explores all aspects of the Holocaust We learn of the slow unfolding before the war, when Jews were ghettoized and made to live with their own kind Hanna speaks about the non Jewish friends who abandoned her, the neighbours who turned a blind eye At Auschwitz, Zail delves into the little discussed politics within the concentration camp and barracks hierarchy Block leaders were assigned to keep people in check Jewish women who were also prisoners, but ranked above the rest and often with a coloured patch on their uniforms, identifying them as murderers When Hanna is assigned as Captain Jager s pianist, she and her family experience derision from their barrack mates, who believe Hanna is like those women in the camp who spread their legs for the soldiers.Throughout the novel Hanna is seemingly in two worlds within the camp she witnesses the horrors and injustices women picked off one by one when they don t pass the morning fitness test, and the way that they eventually turn on one another for a scrap of bread or a dead woman s shoes And then she ventures into Captain Jager s luxurious home, where she is made to play Mozart and Wagner, making herself sick as she entertains his uniformed friends I closed my eyes and tried to slip inside the music but I couldn t get in I squeezed my eyes shut but it was still there, an image flickering against the backs of my eyelids a man with silver hair bent over a dead body, prying open lips and pulling at gold teeth I opened my eyes and stared at keys, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn t force my way in I stared at the notes dancing across the page and felt sick Playing in Jager s home means Hanna also comes into contact with his beautiful son, Karl The boy will not meet Hanna s eyes, and she is convinced that she disgusts him the dirty Jew in his home But the months pass with requiems, Chopin, Beethoven and the Moonlight Sonataand Hanna begins to see Karl in a new light, even if he is the wrong boy for her.The romance in Zail s novel is complex and sure to keep the reader on edge, but is really second tier to the politics and sadness within Auschwitz Zail writes about life in the concentration camp with striking clarity and ruthlessness and these scenes within the camp s walls are utterly harrowing Because The Wrong Boy is set in Auschwitz, Zail writes about real figures of the Holocaust and Nazi party Josef Mengele, for example, assumes his role as the Angel of Death , the camp s man with the cane who chose who lived and who died Zail also touches on Mengele s role as camp doctor, when Hanna s hometown friends, twin girls, are hand picked by Mengele and taken from the barracks Hanna is a brilliant heroine Throughout the book she sways between terror, anger and profound sadness but her determination is constant She simply will not succumb to death in this putrid camp, and she will do anything to help her family survive with her She is an inspiring heroine, and an utterly compelling narrator.I don t want to give anything away about the ending, particularly concerning who lives and dies But I really liked that at the end, Zail touches on yet another aspect of the Holocaust the return Those Jewish survivors who returned to their homes across Europe, only to find they no longer existed In the aftermath of liberation there are rumours of Jews fleeing to Palestine, where they intend to build an army Other Jews are talking about finding solace in Australia as far away from Europe as they can get This is a whole other facet to the Holocaust, and just as interesting, so I fully intend to read Zail s The Tattooed Flower to getinsight into this aftermath.I am fascinated by history, always have been I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank in year six and being crushed by the book s epilogue, which described Anne s death from typhus in a concentration camp Going into high school and finally learning about the ideologies that led to The Holocaust was both interesting, and disheartening That people can be swayed to violence and inhumanity by nothing but madness and prejudiceit s sickening Evenso when you see picture evidence of the suffering skeletal people in rags and shaved heads, looking like ghosts as they stare out of black and white photos And those photos of bodies piled like mountains, discarded and buried en masse It doesn t matter how many documentaries I watch, or history books I read seeing photos of the concentration camps, those faces and inhuman bodies absolutely floors me I don t want to believe that human beings can be so cruel to one another But we can The young adult genre seems to produce some wonderfully complex and important fiction books about the Holocaust Morris Gleitzman s Once series, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, and of course certain nominees in the Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Older Readers and Teen Readers books that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience The Wrong Boy is vital reading, another harrowing but important fictionalized account of the darkest period of human history I hope that Zail s novel gets put up for a few literary awards this year The Wrong Boy is a book that, anyone who reads it will be moved, and enraged by the history and truth within its pages.Detailed review with photos here