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Cilka's Journey

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I was unable to finish this book. After finishing The Tattooist of Auschwitz I was excited to see this available for request on NetGalley, and immediately upon approval began reading. Sadly, Cilka's Journey did not enthral me the way that Tattooist did.
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A poignant follow up to Tattoist of Auschwitz this book tracks the journey of Cilka, a beautiful 16 year old who catches the unwanted attention of one of the lieutenants at the concentration camp.
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This is the second book by Heather Morris, related to The Tattooist of Auschwitz. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll know about Lale, a real man who was the tattooist in Auschwitz during the Holocaust, doing what he could do to survive. In this second book, we follow Cilka, a brave woman Lale knew. His knowledge, combined with a bit of fiction and what Heather could find out about Cilka creates this book, a powerful tale of the War and what it was like, even after being released from Nazi Concentration Camps. I felt so sorry for Cilka, she had gone through so much, yet was so brave and caring towards others. She seemed to always put others before herself. I thought this was really well written, and an educational story that anyone who is fascinated by the Holocaust era should read. This is such an emotional story, and I wish we all knew more about Cilka. Please, if you haven’t already and you’ve read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, read this. If you haven’t read the Tattooist of Auschwitz, read that and then this. Heartbreaking stories based on true events during WW2.
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After finishing Heather Morris' The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Cilka's Journey became one of my most anticipated reads for 2019. Cilka was first introduced as one of the additional characters we were introduced to in The Tattooist, and this book follows her story following the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
From the first chapters it is quite clear that conditions in this gulag in Siberia won't be much better than they were at Auschwitz. After being accused of collaborating with the Nazis, the now 18-year-old Cilka is taken off to a Soviet gulag in Siberia and heart-breakingly ends up being exposed to almost the same injustices as she was at Auschwitz. It is worth noting that unlike The Tattooist this book is not constructed based on interviews with the protagonist, but instead using stories and Heather's own research, and is considered a work of historical fiction.
The narrative, although solely from Cilka's point of view, encompasses three different timelines: primarily we are in Vorkuta but there are also flashbacks to occurrences at Auschwitz - sometimes parallel to those stories told by Lale in The Tattooist and sometimes new stories - and narratives of her life before Auschwitz.
Similarly to her previous book, Heather's greatest achievement here is narrating a story of hope; as we weave between the timelines of Cilka's life we are told of some truly horrific abuse, but we are also told of the most amazing stories of both love and family, and amongst all the horrors of Vorkuta she still manages to make friends, and even have a glimpse of life after her 15 year sentence. Things start to look up when one of the nurses recognises Cilka's compassion, empathy, and intelligence and rather than having to transport coal from the mines like the other prisoners, she is able to work in the relative safety of the infirmary. Here Cilka learns that there are in fact a new set of rules to play by, and there are so many instances where you fear that everything she has worked for is going to be taken from her.
As well as hope, this story is about a true survivor; once again suffering at the hands of her captors, she also suffers at the hands of other prisoners as well as experiencing resentment from other prisoners despite doing exactly what everyone else there is trying to do: survive. Heartbreaking as this story is, it is an excellent narrative and insight into what people, and women in particular, suffered even after Nazi occupation and the liquidation of the camps.
This book deserves nothing less than five stars for being an engaging and thought-provoking read that explores some of the horrors endured in the gulag, but also the incredible survival of a young woman who has already endured far more in her life than many adults ever will. In her we see a true fighting spirit, and despite everything done to her, Cilka was still capable of being a kind and loving person willing to help others where she could. She is an example of a truly beautiful human spirit.
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Wow I just loved this. I knew it would be good but I just loved how the spirit and story of cilka overtook is the horrors at the base of the story.  Totally heartwarming and what a wonderful yet sad story
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A really good follow on from The Tattooist of Auschwitz - a slightly different style, but an incredible story, with some really harrowing parts to it. But thoroughly recommended.
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“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.”

This is a harrowing story based on true events, the wonderful sequel to The Tattooist of Auschwitz is about Cilka and her journey through the camps at Birkenau to  the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera. 
I kept forgetting how young Cilka was when all of this was happening, the story completely sucked me in and I just couldn't put it down. It's hard to imagine what she must have gone through, and I don't think that I could have survived what she experienced. 
It was a nice touch that Heather Morris told us in the beginning that this was a work of fiction but there is lots of information after the story to help us understand her movements. 
This is a story of one woman's survival, her courage, friendship, love, the hatred, rape, racism and cruelty she endured; with all this in mind however, it is equally inspiring and heartbreaking. 

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The follow up to the Tattooist of Auschwitz or so I thought.
No way as good and did not keep me wanting to keep reading.I found it a bit boring and had a bit to much romance not the actual horror of the camp.
I would have preferred to have read about Cilkas pre war experiences and then read about the Russian camp.
I must be one of the few not to rave about this book but after the Tattooist it had a lot to live up to and It did not sorry.
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Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris is a powerful and heart breaking historical novel with its roots in reality. Lead character Cilka was first encountered in Heather Morris’ previous novel, The Tattooist Of Auschwitz. This book is Cilka’s story.
Cilka’s Journey is set from 1942 to the mid 1950’s. The action is mainly set in the Vorkula Gulag with flashbacks to Auschwitz. It is a heart wrenching novel with a heart of gold at its centre in the form of Cilka. She gives what little she can, whenever she can. Cilka reaches out in kindness.
No one should ever judge anyone who has been in the camps. People did what they did in order to survive. “No one can judge us… There were only two choices: one was to survive. The other was death.” Cilka shows a remarkable strength of character as she detaches her mind from her body. “He can have her body… he cannot have her mind, her heart, her soul.” Serial rape was a weapon of war, used as a form of control by the Nazis and others in authority. There are some hard to read scenes as the weak are overpowered by the strong.
Heather Morris shows the strength of character needed to survive. It is a character that clings to dignity, showing kindness and compassion, and developing loyalty and community. I am full of admiration for Cilka. In her circumstances she did not lose her humanity. “Finding a little hope in the darkness is not a weakness.”
Cilka’s Journey is not a pleasant read. It is hard to witness such cruelty and man’s inhumanity to man. We do need to read it to know what happened and in memory of all the innocents who perished.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
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Wow, what an incredible book. If you loved The tattoos of Auschwitz, then this is a must read. Heartbreaking and gripping, what an incredible woman Cilka was. Highly recommend.
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When I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, I found myself, like many others, drawn to one of the characters we come across: Cilka Klein. She is a beautiful young prisoner who catches the eye of the camp’s SS-Obersturmführer and is forced into a sexual relationship with him in order to survive. So when I heard that Heather Morris had written a follow-up book all about this fascinating woman, Cilka’s Journey, I was so pleased that we would finally be able to hear the story of the character who had captured so many readers’ hearts.

Intrigued to hear what happened to Cilka, I was surprised to find that the answer leads us to Russia, and the Vorkuta gulag. Tragically, after all she endured in Birkenau, on her release Cilka was imprisoned by the Russians as a Nazi collaborator. I knew very little about the experiences of prisoners of these camps, so it was an eye-opening and educational read. I liked that although this novel follows The Tattooist of Auschwitz in time, and we do see glimpses of its central characters Lale and Gita, it is Cilka who is firmly at the heart of this particular story. It isn’t really a sequel to Morris’s earlier novel – it is as the title says, Cilka’s journey.

Morris does a good job of weaving fact and fiction together to imagine Cilka’s story. Unlike with The Tattooist of Auschwitz where Morris had the opportunity to hear Lale’s story from him first hand, for Cilka’s story Morris had to piece small fragments of history together into a readable and compelling story. I had expected the novel to focus more on the time Cilka endured at Auschwitz, but we do see glimpses of it through Cilka’s recollections of her past. The novel gives a sympathetic portrayal of Cilka and raises interesting questions about the decisions we make when confronted with the stark, brutal question of our own survival.
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Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris 
The short version of this review is, if you loved The Tattooist Of Auschwitz, then chances are you will love Cilka's Journey too.  
I fell in love with Cilka as the book went on, as she showed so much courage,  and the fight to survive. As this book is a work of fiction based on Cilkas life, its difficult to know what her life was actually like, but having read several books about Auschwitz/Birkenau I can begin to form a picture of the true scale of the horror.  
Although the subject matter is grim,  I did enjoy this book and flew through it very quickly.
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Thank you Netgalley for my review copy of this book.

Moving, emotive and totally engaging.  Although this story is part of a fiction narrative it does pay tribute to all of the hardship that Cilka went through in her life and her courage and bravery to survive.  The nature of a good book is to draw you in to the world they are portraying and this book does just that.  You will go through an emotional rollercoaster whilst reading this book.
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A really harrowing look at an important part of history that isn’t well known about and should be. Really well written striking the perfect balance between being true to events without over sensationalising them.
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This book was a rollercoaster of emotions.

It documented a raw and emotional account of one innocent girl's traumatic journey from Auschwitz to Siberia where she was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for collaborating with the Nazis.⁣
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Cilka was a selfless character who put everyone before herself, despite the gruelling conditions and mistreatment she continued to receive. The events described in this book were utterly unbelievable. Although some were fictional, the majority were not. The bravery shown by numerous characters in this book showed how people still stuck together and cared for each other during this horrific time, instead of giving up. I admired each and every character that stood up to the system and found the courage to tell their story.

I am drawn to books set during the Holocaust as I believe the events that occurred and the suffering of human beings cannot be ignored and the truth needs to be told. Many think the holocaust didn't actually exist and the whole thing is a work of fiction. This is not the case, and it takes brave people like Cilka and Lale to tell their stories and make sure that this never happens again. I also have to credit the author for bringing this sensitive story to life without sugarcoating what really happened. Yes it broke my heart, and yes I struggled to accept it, but that is what the Holocaust is.

I hope Cilka is in peace and knows how proud of her bravery we all are.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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