Cury aims to encourage people to rise above their problems, enact change and seek improvement in their lives. Message heard,...

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THE REVOLUTION

From the Dreamseller series , Vol. 2

A mysterious traveler and his disciples provide enlightenment in Cury’s second book in the Dreamseller series (The Dreamseller: The Calling, 2011).

The Dreamseller is a modern-day philosopher whose journey helps others realize that what mankind has produced is often more harmful than good, but humans have the power to change for the better. Liberated from his own past, he uses teachable moments to gently point out many of the failures that we as individuals and societies have created: a value system that teaches that when we give, we should expect to receive something in return; an educational system that fails to encourage students to engage in critical thinking; a social system that deems some people more important than others. Whether his group is dining at the home of amputees or performing for the most hardened criminals, this modern-day messiah has a message to impart, and very few of these are messages that you haven’t already heard. What makes this book distinct isn’t necessarily the message; it’s the way the writer chooses to convey each message. Cury, an award-winning Brazilian author, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, is out to espouse his views, and he’s created an excellent vessel for doing so. Instead of a dry, textbook approach, he employs a ragtag crew of relatable and amusing characters who bring their own spin to the story, the “anonymous” heroes. These disciples have all traveled different paths and include former sociology professor Julio Cesar and two buffoonish alcoholics, Bartholomew (Honeymouth) and Barnabas (the Mayor), who provide comic relief and exhibit undying loyalty when they risk their own lives to aid their Master during a life-threatening situation. But the characters, situations and twists (most of which are fairly predictable, but not all) are only a means to an end.

Cury aims to encourage people to rise above their problems, enact change and seek improvement in their lives. Message heard, loud and clear.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9605-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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