I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
29/9 - This is very interesting, but a bit hard to read, thinking about doctors literally experimenting on disadvantaged children because it's interesting and because they can (due to the lack of a need for parental consent for orphans) is disturbing for me. The damage these X-rays do to the children, in the short and long term is horrifying to read about. While this is a fictional story, it reads very much like a descendant's account of their family member's real life experience. It doesn't feel like the author imagined it in her head.
While the subject matter is of great interest and emotional impact, the writing is a bit hit and miss. The writing in the 'child-aged Rachel' chapters are quite different-sounding in maturity level. It's almost like those chapters are written by a different author. I understand the need for a different 'voice' for the 3rd person chapters, but why does the 'voice' need to sound like it was written by a teenager? That is irritating, but won't put me off finishing the book. To be continued...
2/10 - I lost a bit of respect and sympathy for Rachel when she betrayed Naomi. I know she has a terrible fate awaiting her, but I was very surprised when Naomi turned out to be the 'she/her' that Rachel was trying to get a hold of and anxiously waiting to have return. I expected the betrayal would mean Naomi wouldn't want to see or speak to Rachel ever again (I don't think I would). My grandma went through something similar to Rachel's experience. When she was in her early twenties she volunteered in a hospital, nursing patients with tuberculosis and to make sure that the nurses didn't contract TB themselves they had X-rays of their lungs done every few weeks to check for signs of the disease. Thirty yeas later she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, and there was no such thing as reconstructive surgery in the fifties. She lived the rest of her life with no breasts, a small amount of padding (kind of like an insertable shoulder pad) used to fill out a bra to give her a facsimile of her pre-surgery shape. Ten years pass and she's diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has a complete hysterectomy. Another ten and she's diagnosed with bone cancer and goes through numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she battled the cancer for the rest of her life. Thank goodness cancer treatments have become far more advanced and targeted these days and thank goodness doctors now realise how dangerous unnecessary X-rays can be.
With a book that's a combination of historical fiction and a memoir of her grandfather's time spent in an orphanage (recreated through the secondary character of Vic, a friend to Rachel and her brother Sam), van Alkemade has told a very interesting, and unique story that didn't go how I was expecting it to. Just like van Alkemade said in the 'extras' at the back of the book, as soon as you mention Jewish children and doctors experimenting on them most people's thoughts jump to WWII and the Nazis, mine certainly did. So, with this not really having anything to do with the Nazis (despite what Rachel tried to accuse Dr Solomon of), it wasn't the war/concentration camp book I was expecting it to be. I really enjoyed the story even though some of the writing sounded needlessly immature. As I said in my review for Black Rabbit Hall, I usually tend to like books that switch back and forth between one time and another, using the time separation to create mystery in the plot. I will definitely look out for more by Kim van Alkemade at the library.
PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Popular Author's First Book