Cilka's Journey

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 1 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

When I heard that Heather Morris was writing this novel based on ‘Cilka’s Journey’ I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I loved the Tattooist of Auschwitz, it was a heartbreaking but an incredibly interesting read but I always wondered what happened to Cilka. The end of the book never really tied up her story and this is what Cilka’s Journey provides, a completed story which answers all the questions.

I loved every topic this book explored, although most of them were difficult emotionally to read, the way Cilka and her friends were treated was appalling and inhumane. At times it made me feel angry that humans could ever treat each other in this way. Yet this group of women still managed to find hope, a light at the end of the tunnel and they fought through all of the difficulties, hardship and horrific things they faced. They are honestly some of the bravest and strongest women and for that, they should be remembered in history forever. 

How Cilka survived all of these horrific ordeals at such a young age I can’t even fathom to imagine. She managed to train as a nurse and make a way of life for herself whilst being kept prison, being continually raped and hardly fed. Yet with each chapter that went by I couldn’t believe how clever she was, how she always found ways to support and help the other women in her hut. What an incredible woman with so much strength.

Heather Morris is an ingenious writer, she pulls you in through her writing and I found that once I started I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. A fantastic yet incredibly difficult and at times brutal read but an important story that needed to be told. One of my favourite reads this year!
Was this review helpful?
Fascinating and heartbreaking book. I love that it is based on a true story and the author has certainly researched the characters well. We first meet Cilka in the Tattooist of Auschwitz and she is described as 'the bravest person I have ever met' by Lale Sokolov the main character in that book. It is fascinating to follow Cilka's journey and to find out her fate after being liberated from the horrors of Auschwitz.  Unbelievably she is sentenced to 15 years hard labour in a remote Siberian gulag for the crime of 'collaboration with the enemy'. 
The book highlights how horrifically survivors were treated after the war, poor Cilka only did what she had to survive, helping others when she could, and to be imprisoned again was almost unthinkable. I didn't realise the extent to which the gulags were used to imprison people and I certainly didn't realise holocaust survivors also ended up there. A harrowing read but not sensationalised which I appreciated.
Was this review helpful?
After being completely mesmerised by ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ last year, I haven’t stopped thinking about what a remarkable and extraordinary tale it is. I’m still stunned at how it all actually happened. So to hear that there was going to another book leading off from it, I knew I just had to read it. I’ve been waiting for ‘Cilka’s Journey’ ever since I first heard about it and I was so glad to finally be able read it.

This book was truly, truly incredible. I think what’s difficult to comprehend with this book and ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’ is that they’re both a true story and people actually lived through the terrible instances as described. I can’t even put into words the sheer bravery and strength at the core of this story. It’s just remarkable and especially because in this day and age, where it’s lacking. I was in awe at how defiant and strong headed Cilka was but heartbroken at how she was ashamed and guilty for something that she had no choice over whatsoever. I’m glad that this book came out in order to justify and highlight what Cilka did was in order to survive and that any decision was out of her power. As I said before, I think it’s important to have these difficult and haunting reads, especially with ‘Cilka’s Journey’ where there were a lot more pressing issues such as , because it makes you realise how you take the simple things like safety and survival for granted.

Overall, I felt deeply grateful and honoured to have read this book. Cilka’s youth was completely snatched away from her and destroyed. Yet she still found the strength to survive and find love. She’s such an inspiration.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.

I had been meaning to read The Tattooist of Auschwitz for ages, so read this first and then Cilka's Journey.

As we know, Cilka and Lale were both prisoners at Auschwitz for a number of years. When Auschwitz was liberated, Cilka was deemed to have been 'sleeping with the enemy' and sentenced to 15 years hard labour in a gulag in Siberia. 
The novel begins with the awful journey to Siberia and then the freezing conditions of the prisoners hut. 
Cilka's selfness nature and determination is amazing. She always thinks of others before herself and despite some initially difficult relationships with others in her hut, manages to make friends. 
She gets work in the hospital and wants to help as many people as possible. This doesn't go down well with some of the senior doctors. 
After ten years in Siberia, Cilka is released and manages to live her life at last. For such a young girl to have lost her family and then have to endure the horrors of Auschwitz and then a Siberian gulag it's amazing how much compassion she has for others.

Despite the bleak subject matter, the book is readable and very well researched. I really liked the character of Cilka and it really puts into perspective what people went through during that time.
Was this review helpful?
Cilka's Journey is a sequel to the Tattooist of Auschwitz but can be read as a standalone. Following her release from Auschwitz, Cilka is wrongly convicted of working with the enemy as a prostitute and spy and sentenced to fifteen years hard labour in a Siberian labour camp.

This is a story about survival in the most harrowing of circumstances. It is well researched and stories like Cilka's deserve to be told so we never forget the atrocities of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

It will appeal to fans of historical fiction.
Was this review helpful?
*Contains spoilers*

- Cilka's Journey is just as hard-hitting as The Tattooist of Auschwitz. After the liberation of Aushwitz, Cilka is sent to a prison camp as a result of her being seen to have worked 'with' the Nazi's during her time in the camp. What Cilka was forced to do during her time in Auschwitz is slowly revealed over the course of the book, and has long-lasting effects on her choices during her time in the prison camp, as well as the attitude of other prisoners towards her.

-Most of the information regarding Cilka and her life in Aushwitz and her subsequent time in the prison camp is gleaned from interviews with those who knew Cilka, as well as Morris's friendship with Lale Solokov, the subject of Heather Morris's previous book. As such, her story feels somewhat surface level, as if lacking her inner voice, although the narration is from her point of view. Morris has stated that Cilka's story is a blending of these facts into a fictionalised telling of her story. This is only a slight feeling, and there is still a lot of detail in the story. Over time, Cilka is able to work in the medical centre, then out in the ambulance. There is a focus on Cilka's relationship with other prisoners, and this shows that there are both similarities and differences between prisoners in the concentration camps and prisoners in the work camps afterwards. Learning the true extent of Cilka's experience in Auschwitz was a truly harrowing process, leaving me wondering just how she was affected going forward, especially after the subsequent imprisonment and hard labour as well. 

-The experiences of women in the camp are not glossed over. Cilka and the other prisoners are regularly beaten, starved and raped. It was horrific to read of their experiences, but at the same time fascinating to see how some women acted tin order to cope with these awful experiences. Developing a knowledge of how to act was essential if you wanted to survive. Although Morris clearly advises us she had not met Cilka, the detail of the conditions she endured is still so vivid. Cilka is able to develop her skills in the hospital, and eventually meets and falls in love with a patient she is caring for, Alexandr.

-Cilka is eventually released, and managed to meet Alexandr outside the camp, in freedom. The story ends quickly after this, which is expected, I suppose, as the detail of her life must fade at points with Morris relying on second hand accounts of Cilka's life. I found myself wishing for a little more detail as Cilka's journey continued outside the prison camp. However, I appreciate that Morris has not embellished the story afterwards, and kept it as accurate as possible. Overall, I found this book stayed with me for a long time afterwards, and if not in the same way as The Tattooist of Auschwitz, it was still a remarkable read.
Was this review helpful?
Having read the Tattooist of Auschwitz I was looking forward to following Cilka's journey too.  I found it hard reading but necessary because this was her journey.  It was shocking and her journey was extremely harrowing and at times you thought how much more can she take.  This was another brilliant book by the author.
Was this review helpful?
Lale Solokov reached many more readers than I think even he intended through his chosen spokesperson, Heather Morris. The Tattooist of Auschwitz had such great impact on such an enormous scale, and allowed Lale to have a voice long after his story ended. Heather Morris once again acts as a sensitive but unapologetic storyteller for people like Lale who have a stories deserving to be told; this reimagining of Cilka Klein's story is no exception to this. I think it's important to go into this book accepting that history doesn't give up its secrets very easily, and as such this is by no means a complete or completely reliable story of Cilka's life, but it certainly will answer some of the burning questions left at the end of Lale and Gita's story. 

We begin our reunion with Cilka almost immediately after the close of the previous book, but instead of the much-deserved freedom Gita and Lale manage to steal back from their captors, Cilka instead is interrogated by the Soviets and accused of prostituting herself to the Nazi's. With that said she is trapped once again in a labour camp, this time in Russia, and this time with a fifteen year sentence upon her now eighteen year old shoulders. Imagine the magnitude of loss, not just of your freedom but once again of your identity, after spending the past three years of your life in a place worse than even Hell, to only find yourself in just another version of it. 

The real question most readers will want to know is this: How has a 16 year old girl managed to stay alive in the worst place known to man? Cilka's Journey will show you the intensely driven, hard-working and hopeful teenage girl who grew to be a woman because of her sheer force of will. Cilka is amazing, and her story shows the incredible strength of so many women like her in the Holocaust and beyond. 

Most of the story happens within Cilka's new prison. This time, instead of the systematic mass murder of people with gas chambers, Stalin takes a less refined approach and allows the freezing conditions, exhaustion and malnourishment to do the dirty work for him. This isn't to say that Cilka is any better off - in fact all the women continue to endure routine exploitation, beatings and rape on a regular basis. But it does mean that she's been here before, perhaps in worse conditions, and knows how to play the system. Cilka finds herself working with the hospital, fortunate enough to spend a great deal of her time avoiding exposure to the harsh conditions in the mines or outside, and makes a name for herself as somewhat of a hero doing all she can to learn how to be a nurse to those around her.

I loved watching Cilka develop. She learns to cultivate friendships and skills, having seen how integral they were to her survival before, and whilst she struggles to even speak about what happened to her she does learn to trust a few like-minded people. Much of this story is built from testimonials from survivor accounts mentioning Cilka's name, and if even a handful of them are true then Cilka Klein deserved her story to be written, because God only knows people like her deserve to finally have a voice after years of being too frightened or ashamed to admit the horrors that happened to them. 

There were a few things which detracted a bit from the story for me. Most notably the use of entire full names multiple times within a single dialogue. I expect this is actually tradition, a sign of respect or authority within Russian culture, but it was so frequent in such short bursts that it felt a little jarring and removed me from the story somewhat. Equally, the ending of Cilka's story felt a little rushed with a rushed romantic connection to end on; whilst this was certainly a significant conclusion to Cilka's life, we hardly see this connection developing and it fell a little flat.

The knowledge that this story is largely built from the memories of Lale, Gita and survivor accounts might initially highlight some gaps in how much we really know, and can ever truly know, and this might be an example of that. But I've thought about this for a while whilst writing this review, and there's actually something quite magical about preserving the memory of a person as incredible as Cilka through the memories of the lives she touched, or better yet in Lale's case saved. 

ARC provided free from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on this 'follow up'! CIlka Klein is eighteen when she is freed from the concentration camps, but her freedom is quickly taken away as she is taken to a Siberian prison camp for her forced role during her time there. She must once again survive horrendous conditions and find hope for the future. 
I devoured this book; I like the authors writing style and she captures people so well. I could picture every character and the hut they called home. Cilka goes through some awful things but her strength shines through and we the reader will her onward.
Was this review helpful?
Having loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz I was so excited to be approved for Cilkas Journey- thank you Netgalley and Heather Morris. I couldn’t wait to get started and read about what happened to Cilka. I was so shocked and saddened that after Auschwitz was liberated she was arrested for being in with the Nazis and sent to a Russian camp in Siberia. Following Cilka through her time here, I found this a harrowing read but with moments of love and hope. Morris is a wonderful writer. A brilliant book anyone who loved the first book will enjoy it.
Was this review helpful?
Cilka was a wonderful character in 'The tattooist of Auschwitz' and it was wonderful to see a whole story dedicated to her experience there an what happened to her subsequently.
I think, because of the lack of information about Cilka, and how the author has used accounts of multiple women to weave together a more fictionalised narrative, the story does, at times, slip into repetitive action. The number of times Cilka was employed by and then removed from the hospital made my head spin! But a heartfelt story with, at its core, a testimony of the endurance of the human spirit in the face of unbearable suffering. So interesting to read something about the Gulags as well.
Was this review helpful?
Having read and been blown away by Heather Morris's first book 'The Tattooist of Auschwitz' I was keen to read the 2nd book in this series. This is the story of Cilka Klein who survives Auschwitz, only to be incarcerated in a labour camp in Siberia on charges of helping the Nazi's. Cilka Klein is only 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers but she is then sentenced for 15 years without any consideration being given to the circumstances she found herself in when trying to survive. 
Cilka befriends a woman doctor, and learns to nurse the ill and the malnourished within the camp in unbelievable conditions.
This account is based on what is known of Cilka Klein's time in Auschwitz, and on the experience of women in Siberian prison camps. Although I don't think this book had the same affect on me it is nevertheless a good read.
The book is uplifting and a story that shows a brave woman's determination to survive when everything is against her.
I would like to thank both Net Galley and Bonnier Zaffre for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Auschwitz, 1942. Obersturmfuhrer Schwarzhuber supervised the selection. While others hoped to appear "invisible", Cilka Klein, head held high, looked directly at him.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1943. Cilka Klein, as Block Leader, bundled up in a warm coat, supervised the women of Block 25. "She exists within this world in order to stay alive...Her feelings have been taken away. It started when Schwarzhuber...began regular visits."

February, 1945. The camp was liberated but Cilka's fate was yet to be determined. Questioned by counterintelligence agents, she was asked how she had been able to survive for three years in Auschwitz. "You look like you haven't can expect a long sentence of hard labor...15 years...for working with the enemy..." She was herded onto a train bound for Vorkuta Gulag, Siberia.

What was life like at the Vorkuta Gulag? "We have been branded enemies of the state and we are here to be corrected through labor." "Whatever it is, don't argue, don't fight with them; try to be invisible and do as you are told." "Eyes down, don't stand out." The rules changed daily. There was always the threat of violence and the "hole" in addition to constant rape. "...[Cilka] has gone from one cruel, inhuman place to another."

Having a capacity for languages, "...By accident, again, Cilka is in a position of more, unwanted she will have access to better food, warmth, materials." She is selfless, putting others before herself, saving lives whenever possible.

"Cilka's Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #2)" by Heather Morris is a work of historical fiction based on the life of Cilka Klein. She was only sixteen when a round-up of Slovakian Jews landed her in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Having saved the life of Lale Sokolov, "The Tattooist of Auschwitz", author Morris presents a sequel, the story of Cilka Klein, who, with hope and resilience, survived and sacrificed for others. This was a difficult, emotional, at times, tearful read. It needs to be read!

Thank you Bonnier Zaffre and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Cilka's Journey".
Was this review helpful?
"Did I tell you about Cilka?...She was the bravest person I ever met. Not the bravest girl; the bravest person...She saved my life. She was beautiful, a tiny little thing, and she saved my life " -Lale Eisenberg, the tattooist of Auschwitz.

Cilka's Journey has been written as a result of the author, Heather Morris, striking up a lovely friendship with Lale and listening to his life story which was brought to life in the beautifully written Tattooist of Auschwitz. Cilka is mentioned in that story, she is a friend  of Gita, who would become his wife. The author said she received lots of requests to find out what happened to Cilka, thus embarking on a journey that results in this book.

Firstly, the author does make it clear that, unlike with the Tattooist of Auschwitz, she has not met Cilka. This telling of her story is pieced together from speaking to Lale, neighbours, interviews, research and travelling many places in search of the history. Some of the characters are fictional in order to protect the identity of her ancestors.

I learnt so much from this book. It is heart breaking and incredibly eye opening. I had no understanding of Vorkuta. I did not know that when Auschwitz prisoners were "freed", that some were held back and punished for behaviour that was their sole way of surviving.

Cilka spent 3 years in Auschwitz and another 10 years in "the white hell", a camp in Siberia with startling similarities to concentration camps. Her strength and determination to stay alive astounded me. 

She was selfless and gave up opportunities for freedom to ensure the welfare of her friends. She trained to be a nurse and saved countless lives, demonstrating bravery, resilience and human compassion when it would have been so easy to keep away from attention or speaking out.

She was so brave, witnessing so much death and despair and still putting others ahead of herself. She should never be forgotten. This part of history should never be forgotten. Thank you Heather Morris for ensuring that people will learn about this for generations to come.

#libraryatsevern #bookstagram #readersofinstagram #bookstagrammer #cilkasjourney #netgalley #bookreviewer #bookshelf #goodreads
Was this review helpful?
Now Breathe..................I was lucky enough to read this book before it came out. So I found a corner in my farmhouse and done a marathon read of Heather's first book "The Tattooist of Auschwitz" and then read "Cilka's Journey" by Heather Morris............OMG I am lost for words. 

This book Cilka's Journey is a Five 🌟⭐️🌟⭐️🌟and a must read. Heather has written this book with her heart and so much passion., so you will need tissues again for this one. 
Once you open your kindle and start to read about the main character Cilka, you just want to learn more about her and what happened to her after surviving being a prisoner during World War 2 in the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. 

Cilka was just sixteen years old when she was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. She had to do what she can to stay alive and she survived till the end of the second world war in 1945. She made friends with many prisoners within the camp and with Lale Sokolov. a Slovakian Jew and Gita who Lale later married. They were the main characters in the first book called The Tattooist of Auschwitz. (A must read also)

She had two choices when she was in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration camp - 

Face death or do as she was told. - Not much of a choice!!!!!

In 1945, Cilka was then charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy. Cilka was the mistress of a Nazi Officer and was repeated raped by him etc. She was trailed and sentenced to fifteen years, hard labor at a Gulag camp in Siberia. Blimey!!! Cilka my heart has gone out to you again. She survived the Auschwitz and now to be sent as a prisoner to another horrible camp! All she did was fight to survive in Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. and she was so young and innocent. 
Cilka's life was heart breaking in this camp and all she wanted to do was help others. She became friends with many people within the camp especially a Doctor called Yelena and volunteered to help people within the camp. Cilka had a big heart and volunteered to be there to help those that need it in the harsh surroundings, she put her life at risk many times to save others. Her life was not worth saving if she could save their. 

OMG Cilka! You were one bloody amazing lady. Cilka started to train as a nurse and Yelena asks her to assist in her surgeries. Cilka helped many prisoners within the camp..........She made an impact to others around her and cared about them. She was a determined young lady and wanted to put things right within the hospital she volunteered to work in. . She was a fighter and never gave up! 

Does Cilka ever find happiness within Gulag camp in Siberia?

Does she leave here alive and live her life outside in the real world?

Well, you will just need to buy the book to find out! 

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THESE TWO BOOKS!!! Plus a box of tissues! 

I was over the moon and lucky enough to get a copy of Cilka's Journey. So a Massive Thank - you to Netgalley, Jordan Hanley, and St. Martin's Press and especially to Heather Morris the author for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I was really moved by The Tattooist of Auschwitz. I am amongst a large group of people who don't normally read no fiction so this, for me, is the perfect solution to finding out the lives of holocaust survivors. I get that there may be inaccuracies but I didn't read this as a non-fiction book, I read it as a book based on a true story of an a harrowing even that the world must not forget. It is with the same attitude that I have read Cilka Journey 

Another review post this about the book and I literally couldn't have put it better if I spent days trying: 
" It is difficult and uncomfortable and necessary for us to see and imagine how horrible it was. I’m not going to detail any of that here, but will just say that this is an important work of fiction which reflects the horrors of these times and places, but also the real emotions, the real humanity, the real love and the real resilience of people that historical fiction can convey."

Thank you to Net Galley for my copy of this in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I’d like to thank Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read ‘Cilka’s Journey’ by Heather Morris in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
In 1942 Cilka Klein is sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp when just sixteen years old.  She survives by letting two officers prostitute her body but despite this she’s charged with being a collaborator and sent to Vorkuta Galag in Siberia where she and the other prisoners struggle in unbelievably inhumane conditions, battling with atrocious weather conditions and little food or clothing, but making firm friends with the other residents of her Hut.  Cilka is intelligent and a quick learner and is taught to nurse the sick and dying by Dr Yalena Georgiyevna who she becomes friends with.  It’s in the hospital that she falls in love with a patient, Alexandr Petrik.  
‘Cilka’s Journey’ is a work of fiction but based on the true details given by Lale Sokolov who knew Cilka when they were in Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp together.  The story details her years in Auschwitz, with flashbacks to her life in her hometown in Czechoslovakia, and then the years she’s imprisoned in Vorkuta before she’s finally released. 
Cilka is a true heroine who risked her life many times to save others and who, on one occasion, gave up the chance of freedom to help her friend Josie keep her baby.  It was heart-breaking at times, traumatic and upsetting, yet one of those books everyone should read.  I was moved to tears at how much a woman can go through yet still be determined to survive.  I’m so pleased that Cilka spent many happy years with the man she loved.
Was this review helpful?
The Tattooist of Auschwitz was one of my favourite books of last year and Cilka, a side character in Lale’s story, is someone who I instantly wanted to know more about. She is sent to Auschwitz at age 16 and is set apart by one of the commandants because of her beauty. She is abused by this monster during her time at the concentration camp and anyone who classifies what she went through as anything other than rape is frankly wrong. However after the Soviets have liberated the camp, Cilka is arrested and charged as a Nazi collaborator. She is then sent to a prison camp in Siberia. Even though I knew this is what happened to her, I was still in shock. It is such a horrendous miscarriage of justice that a teenager – who did nothing other than survive in one of the most horrific places in human history – could possibly be called anything other than a very brave woman. It makes me genuinely angry and from the first page I was willing Cilka to survive.

The author tells us at the start of the book that it is a work of fiction based upon what she has uncovered about the real Cilka. Whilst we obviously cannot know the exact way Cilka’s day to day life unfolded, I think her strength and resilience is undeniable from what we do know. What Morris has done here is give Cilka’s story a humanity in a manner that makes it impossible not to root for her to escape her disgracefully unjust circumstances.Throughout the book I just kept marvelling at her ability to maintain her dignity and generosity in any situation, no matter how terrible. She manages to help so many others and yet doesn’t seem to recognise her own innate goodness. I think books like this often make the reader consider how they would react if they were in that situation and I can’t even begin to comprehend how I would survive.

Cilka’s Journey is not a cheerful book. It couldn’t possibly be, given the subject matter. However, it is never depressing or without some form of hope. It is a book that truly demonstrates the strength of human connection and the importance of small kindnesses in brutal conditions. If you loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz then you will love Cilka’s Journey too, and I’m sure new readers will be just as affected by this remarkable story.
Was this review helpful?
While CILKA'S JOURNEY is a sequel to "The Tattooist of Auschwitz", it is also a completely separate story in its own right and can be read as a standalone. It is poignant and it is heartbreaking when you think of what women like Cilka went through. Although we can empathise, we can never truly comprehend or understand having never lived through those harrowing times ourselves.

CILKA'S JOURNEY came about when Heather Morris was talking to Lale Sokolov about his time in Auschwitz. 

"Did I tell you about Cilka?"
"No, Lale, you didn't. Who was Cilka?"
"She was the bravest person I ever met. Not the bravest girl; the bravest person."
"She saved my life. She was beautiful, tiny little thing, and she saved my life."

And so the premise, the story, of CILKA'S JOURNEY was born. 

Cilka was sent to Auschwitz in Birkenau from her home in Czechoslovakia on 23rd April 1942. At just 16 years old she is soon forced to become a sex slave to one of the camp's Commandants and put in charge of Block 25, the barracks housing the sick, weak and emaciated women on their way to the gas chambers. It was a task she hated but in Auschwitz, you did what you could to survive. It was here she met Lale Sokolov, the camp's tattooist, who fell in love with her best friend Gita, as their numbers are tattooed again and again to ensure they never fade.

In January 1945, the Soviet army liberated the camp and set the remaining survivors free. Having nowhere to go, Cilka remained with some of the others until they were strong enough to leave. In the following weeks, those who remain are questioned by the Soviet officers. When Cilka is questioned, she is faced with the truth twisted into something more. She is accused of prostituting herself to the Nazi's and as she speaks several languages, she is also charged as a spy reporting on and sleeping with the enemy. Her punishment is sentenced to a Siberian prison camp for 15 years hard labour.

The journey to Siberia is long and fraught with a resignation of what's to come. Some do not make it to the camp, their bodies removed at various stops along the way, discarded like trash. Upon arrival at the camp, Cilka knows the horrors of what's to come. The hosing, the shaving, the shame. She whispers advice to her new friend Josie - Be invisible, don't stand out...but whatever they dish out to you, just take it. Cilka knows what will happen if you don't. Once again, the women are lined up and paraded for the officers to choose as their own. Cilka has exchanged one prison for another. And she is just 19 years old.

The story alternates between Cilka's time in Siberia to the flashbacks of her time in Auschwitz. From one prison to another, we witness the horrors she endures in both places. But her resistance is strong as she does what she can to stay alive. Through it all, Cilka suffers immense guilt having survived where others have not and yet she continues to persevere. What resilience! I'm not sure I could have remained as strong as she did but I guess needs must and you really DO what you can to survive.

It is because of her acumen and intelligence that she becomes a nurse, tending to the ill in the camp - caring for them under brutal conditions in Siberia's harsh and bitter cold. But through it all she finds a way to assuage her guilt to compensate for the terrible things she was forced to do in Auschwitz.

An obviously extraordinary young woman, CILKA'S JOURNEY is a fictionalised account of Cilka, a real woman who touched the life of Lale Sokolov, befriending him in "The Tattooist of Auschwitz". She was a resilient and brave young woman who left her mark on those whose lives she touched. 

CILKA'S JOURNEY is harrowing in parts but also a beautiful story of hope. The reader is drawn in and feels Cilka's pain and suffering for all she endured. Some scenes are graphic in nature due to the horrifying time of the Holocaust.

I do have a few complaints though. I felt the chapters were far too long and drawn out, making it difficult to put down at a moment's notice and then picking up again where you left off. I read on my Kindle app and 55 minutes to a chapter is far too long. Some of the story I felt were drawn out as well and as much as I love to immerse myself in time in a story, I don't particularly want to feel as if I am reading an historical essay where factual account reads more like a textbook that an historical novel.

However, CILKA'S JOURNEY is a compelling, albeit harrowing, read. I am glad that Cilka survived the atrocities she was faced with and went on to live a long and happy life for some 50 years with the man she loved.

I would like to thank #HeatherMorris, #NetGalley and #Zaffre for an ARC of #CilkasJourney in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
An incredibly moving story. After reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I was really intrigued to find out what had become of Cilka. This book was profound and showed an incredibly resilient woman going through the hardest of times. An absolute must read if you enjoyed The Tattooist of Auschwitz!
Was this review helpful?