Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Book Review Club (April 2020)

Welcome to the April 2020 edition of The Book Review Club. These covid-
19 times are scary and disconcerting and anxiety provoking. Not everyone could post this month. But we're happy to offer you at least some reviews for books we enjoyed and think you might enjoy, too. My little sister, Sheilagh Scott, very kindly (not surprising as she does all sorts of kind things for people) wrote this month's review. That's my sister on the left!

by Heather Dune Macadam 
(nonfiction, Jewish Holocaust History)

Over the years, I have read many moving books about Auschwitz, but 999 by Heather Dune Macadam stands out for me. This is the story of the first transport to Auschwitz, which was entirely female.  
The author certainly did her research. She interviewed several survivors, their relatives and consulted the USC Shoah Archive and the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Israel. Did you know that this first transport was all unmarried women under the age of 36? This is their story. It’s a shocking story, but also a story of solidarity and sisterhood. 
In March 1942, in the Slovakian towns of Humenn√© and PreŇ°ov (towns that had large Jewish populations), all unmarried Jewish women were called to report for government work. These young women eagerly reported, thinking they were embarking on a great adventure. They quickly learned otherwise, as they went through one dehumanizing experience after another. 
What touched me most was how the women helped each other at great risk to themselves. Most of the young women were deported with sisters, cousins, long-time friends and neighbours. When one in the group had a problem, the others helped. In winter, women stole shoes from the piles of confiscated goods taken from prisoners to give to those with poor footwear. (Interestingly, the women referred to these piles as "Kanada" because Canada was considered the land of plenty.) Women helped each other find less exhausting work stations, especially when a friend was frail. A woman assigned to undergo medical experiments was hidden among her usual work crew as they headed out for the day. The courage of these young women is amazing.
Why was the first transport all women? As Heather Dune Macadam notes, wouldn’t the Nazis want men to do the hard labour? Moreover, many of these women were teenagers, not likely to be used to doing much work at all. As it turns out, according the author, many more women perished in Nazi death camps because the Nazis felt that to eliminate future mothers would hasten the demise of Jews more quickly. 
999 is a heartbreaking account and one that is not well known. It honours the young Jewish women of the first transport to Auschwitz. Their experiences tell the story of humanity triumphing over terror. Definitely worth the read. 

(Dear FCC: library. My sister's library card is well worn.)

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one! And I can't say it enough: please take care of you and yours and stay safe.


Jody Feldman: MARIANNA MAY AND NURSEY by Tomie dePaola (PB)

Phyllis Wheeler: IGGY AND OZ: THE PLASTIC DINOS OF DOOM by JJ Johnson (MG,


Linda McLaughlin: THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty (historical)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE by Julie Lalonde (memoir)

Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: THE SKIN WE'RE IN by Demond Cole (memoir)

Lucy Sartain: IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park (memoir)

Ray Potthoff: OLD MAN RIVER by Paul Schneider (American History)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. Wow. Sometimes there are no words. To send out women first to kill off mothers and future mothers to hasten the demise of Jews is unimaginable. But to come together to help others during this is amazing. I don't know that I could stomach this book but it sounds like an amazing story. Thanks for reviewing Sheilagh. And thanks, as always, for hosting Barrie.

    Stay safe everyone!

  2. I agree, Lucy, sometimes there are no words... I will read this book. Besides my sister's review, it's gotten a lot of good reviews. I'm surprised I didn't know the first group transported to Auschwitz was all women.

  3. I can't say I'm surprised that the first group sent to Auschwitz were women. Misogyny has been long established in all societies. Women are amazing, though. We come together to help each other every time. Proud to be part of the Sisterhood.

    An important book in women's history, but I'm not sure I want to read it.

  4. What a heartbreaking story! Of course I had no idea. Thank you for informing me. So glad the unsung heroes get their book.

  5. I'd NEVER heard about this, and it's so important for us to know. I had no idea the Nazis targeted women this way--it's chilling that they had it all thought through. Thanks so much for reviewing!


Comments are always welcome!