Lenni Reviews: “Irena: Book Two: Children of the Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In a switch up in form, this volume starts with Oliwka, one of the children Irena saved, telling her story to her own daughter before an event where Irena speaks to continue from where the first volume left off. Irena is saved from prison and immediately goes back to helping people escape.

Much like the first, I found this to be beautifully and tastefully done. If you want to introduce someone to Irena’s story and work, I think this is a great primer for further research. The art may be simple but it gets the point across as to the horrors of this point in history. If you like historical graphic novels, this is a great read. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Photographer of Mauthausen” by Salva Rubio & Pedro Columbo

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

This graphic novel is a dramatized story of Francisco Boix, a Spanish press photographer who ended up the confidant of an SS officer at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

This isn’t an easy read but so many stories came out of this time and a man risking everything to expose the truth of the Nazi camps and try to bring justice is a great addition. How much of this is true, I don’t know but I found this to be compelling and respectful. It’s drawn well with enough detail to get the point without being gratuitous. Just have something happy lined up to read after. 4.7 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “The Night Witches” by Garth Ennis & Russ Braun

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* This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel presents the story of The Night Witches through the lens of a fictional character, Anna.

At first, I was excited to get a graphic novel about The Night Witches. If you check out that Wikipedia entry, you can see they were awesome. But then, I see the main character is fictional and I felt immediate disappointment. Call me petty but I didn’t want characters based on the real women, I wanted the real women. Irena may have some dramatizations but Irena existed. But I give it the benefit of the doubt and read it.

Oof…

I didn’t even like Anna, everything felt so forced – including all the random sex scenes –  the villains feel over the top, and the art style didn’t click with me at all. I could tell there was an effort but, it all felt sour at the end. If anything, hopefully, this will get people curious enough to do further reading. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Artist and the Soldier” by Angelle Petta

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

In this sprawling tale, we have Max Amsel and Bastian Fisher who meet as teens in Camp Seigfried then again as adults in the thick of World War II.

First off, I dunno if I was taught this in school and forgot or just wasn’t taught this but I was SHOCKED that the Nazi Camp Siegfried was a real place in NY! I honestly didn’t realize such camps existed and kudos to this book for teaching me that.

This book is almost perfect. It focuses more on the war itself and how it’s affecting everyone, not just our main characters. A great deal of the plot is plucked straight from history. The writing is compelling, the action is well done, and the romance did tug at my heart. If you like historical fiction with a bit of angst, I recommend this despite the ending being a bit of a drop-off. But you can tell a lot of love went into this book. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, & Harmony Becker

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This graphic novel biography details George Takei’s four years in American Japanese internment camps during WWII.

I read this book with tears in my eyes the entire time. I remember learning about these camps in school and back then I couldn’t imagine people being so backward, paranoid, and inhumane.

But that was middle school me. Thirty-eight year old me has seen the news in 2019.

This book is not easy to read because people suck but much like putting myself through Maus and Irena; it does remind me that humans can also be amazing. I had to opportunity to see Mr. Takei speak about his time in the camps and I’m glad I did. I hope people realize one day, history will look back on us just as we look back now on what we did to the Japanese back then. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël & David Evrard

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel tells the story of Irena Sendlerowa, a social worker in the Warsaw ghetto in the early 1940’s who helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children out of the ghetto before getting captured and tortured by the Nazis.

While of course, this is not easy to read, it is an important story and I am glad to see it told. I’m not sure I would give this to a young person as it doesn’t flinch much from the horrors of the ghettos and Nazi torture but it’s still a great book. If I had a nitpick, it would be the ending. Spoilery but it shows her walking off into the light as if she died when she didn’t. She lived into her 90’s. 4.9 out of 5.

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