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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.7 out of 5
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  • Nine Women’s Journey to Freedom

    What makes this story unique which I will warn you there are a lot, is that it isn’t only about the story of these nine women. Parts of the story take us through step by step of the journey the nine went through but we also get to hear part of the story like the author is telling it to us. We get to hear parts of her experience learning about her great aunt and the other 8 women. So there is a family element to the story because the author is related to one of the women. We also get a detective element because Gwen had to do a lot of digging to find the names of some of the women, to learn about their past and their story, and to track down living relatives to hear their stories and experiences of these women. I appreciate that the author didn’t write this as too graphic of a novel but also included enough for us to grasp the horrors of what they went through in the camps and even after. There were a lot of things mentioned that I had never known before. Like the author mentions in an interview she had, the stories of women were kind of put to the background and so hearing of what they went through just opened up a whole new realization of the tragic way that the Nazis treated other human beings. But I also appreciate that the author includes in the story how not all Germans were bad. Many had no idea what was happening. Some were also treated very badly and tried to help the people imprisoned. I think this is an important thing to remember as well when thinking and reading about the holocaust. There were many things that stood out to me in the audiobook version of this novel. I have read a lot of audiobooks but I appreciated a few different things included in the audiobook. The audio of the book included a recording of one of the people mentioned in the book actually singing, which is something you wouldn’t be able to experience when physically reading it. I also liked how the narrator for the story sang parts of the novel when it was appropriate. This made it so much more engaging because it often talks about how one of the women was asked to sing by the others and had a love for music. I also enjoyed hearing an interview with the authors at the end of the audio recording. I would highly recommend listening to this interview once you have finished the recording of the actual book. The narration not only added a lot to the book with the singing numbers but also the voice was changed for each of the people in the story and added accents and tried to mimic their personality, the speed they would talk at, etc. And you can tell with this book that it took a lot of research and time for the author to gather the information to write this story and tell it in a way that won’t just depress us about what happened but also provide a sense of hope and joy in how they found companionship with each other. This story is one of great courage, endurance, love, not only one filled with challenges and struggles. I have nothing against their story as it took a lot of courage for Gwen’s aunt to tell her story and I am sure it will be very inspirational for all who hear it, the only reason I give it a four-star is that the narrative was a little jumpy. It went back and forth. It started by telling the background of one of the girls and telling up to how they started their escape then it would jump back and tell the story of another one of the women before picking up with their escape. I have to say this isn’t an action-packed book. It will take time to progress as a lot of it is just explaining the story of the nine women. So it is different than what I typically read. I mostly read actioned packed and faced-paced, but I really liked this change of speed and taking the time to hear about the nine women, the author's journey to discover their stories, and of their family. Another problem, with no fault to the book was that I had a hard time keeping straight who each person was and I still don't know. There were just a lot of people to keep track but it was nice that at the beginning of the book there is a list of the nine women and who each one was, but I couldn't refer back to it when listening, which is a downside of the audio version. It was also nice to hear at the ending of the book how life turned out for the women to the best that the author could find. Most storied end with them finding freedom but this one continues to tell you their life after and shines a light on the fact that they couldn’t just move on from what they had experienced. It stayed with them and affected them for the rest of their lives. It is hard to hear about the horrible things they endured but it definitely helped to show another side to the story and again showed me a lot of things I never knew before. With lack of better words, it was a really good true story, would recommend reading.

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  • We all go or no one goes!

    THE NINE by Gwen Strauss The Nine is about 9 women who banded together in friendship during World War 2, who planned and escaped captivity from the Nazis. The author has done extensive research on all nine of the women, one of which was her great-aunt Helene Podliasky. Most of the women had nicknames, which they are all referred to in the book. Helene's nickname was Christine. The Nine: Christine Zara Nicole Lon Guigui Zinka Josee Jacky Mena The women were of different nationalities, most were arrested in Paris. Most were members of the Resistance, spies, fighting for freedom against oppression for all peoples. Some of the women knew each other before they were arrested, most were non-Jewish. Several of the women were tortured before being sent on towards the Nazi concentration camps. One woman was very pregnant when arrested, she gave birth in a French prison, her baby was smuggled out and was raised for the remaining war years, by other family members. The nine women were on the death marches near the end of World War II when they saw an opportunity and used it to escape guaranteed death. Several of the women were fluent in several languages and were able to convince the local officials of the towns they passed through that they were simply a group of French girls who had been factory workers, who were anxious to return home to Paris. Author Gwen Strauss has done extensive research into the backgrounds and lives of all nine of the women. It is a courageous story of hope and devotion to one another. Highly recommend it, it gives you a look at a different side of the war, the women who fought so selflessly for the war effort and were punished to the breaking point for their beliefs. Much gratitude to #stmartinspress for the complimentary copy of #thenine, I was under no obligation to post a review.

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  • Grim realities

    nonfiction, historical-places-events, historical-research, history-and-culture, cultural-heritage, Europe, 20th-century, horror, bravery, survival, survivor-s-guilt, survivors, PTSD***** Stark. This is a recounting of real horror. These brave women, pushed beyond endurance have managed to live on until old age despite the ones who wanted them dead for both impersonal and personal reasons. Yet in telling of their own triumphs and tribulations they each mention specific women who they could do nothing to save. The research is impeccable and includes interviews and photos. I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from St Martin's Press via NetGalley. Thank you

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  • Unforgetable!

    It will be a long time before you forget this captivating and engrossing read. The author is the great-niece of Helene Podliasky, one of the nine women who was involved in the resistance during WWII doing various dangerous assignments including hiding children and families, helping downed pilots, delivering weapons, messages, etc. The nine women were all in their 20s when they were captured, tortured, imprisoned and sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. The nine women formed a friendship and through courage, sheer will and determination, they were able to survive and eventually escape. The women spent 10 terrifying days trying to make their way to the front lines in order to get back to France. This was not an easy book to read at times but it is a story that needed to be told. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC of this very engrossing read in exchange for an honest review.

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  • Journey to Freedom

    Gwen Strauss tells the story of her Great Aunt Helene Podliasky and eight of her friends that escape from Ravensbruck concentration camp, across Germany through enemy lines to reach the front of the American's. These are the nine brave women: Helene Podliasty (known as Christine), Suzanne Maude (known as Zara), Nicole Clarence, Madelon Verstijnen (known as Lon), Guillemette Daendels (known as Guigui), Renee LeBon Chateney (known as (Zinka), Josephine Bordanova ( known as (Josee), Jaqueline Aubery du Boulley ( known as Jacky), Yvonne de Guillow (known as Mena). These women worked in the Resistance during the war. They were all an important part of their resistance organizations. Helping Jewish escape with forged papers, helping keep Jewish children safe from the Nazi's, helping to hide and smuggle out downed allied airmen and as couriers and other duties as needed. Unfortunately they were all arrested and sent to Ravensbruck via other camps. They became a unified group of close friends and companions in Ravensbruck , on the escape and for most of their lives afterwards. The book is very interesting in its depiction of the escape and of the conditions of the camps and the treatment of the Nazi's. It also tells of the bad and good treatment by the civilian population before and after their imprisonment in the camps. The things they saw were horrific as were the acts experienced by each of them. I like how the author tells the story of each of the nine women before, during and after their war years. It really makes the story come alive that each of the nine is personalized to us in the story. There is so much history and so much information, the research must have been very exhausting at times. The author has done a wonderful job of explaining all the research and of the people she interviewed , the families and friends of the nine women. This is a true story of courage, heartbreak, Love and strength of these nine women. They went through so much and they stayed together through it all and the escape. They believed in their selves, in each other and in their quest for freedom. They never gave up hope. I really enjoyed reading about these brave women and what they accomplished. This was a very emotional and historic book and I would definitely recommend it. Thanks to Gwen Strauss, St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own."

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