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Cilka's Journey
Cover of Cilka's Journey
Cilka's Journey
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Series, Book 2

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was stil a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

From the author of the multi-million copy bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz comes a new novel based on an incredible true story of love and resilience.

Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was stil a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka's journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.

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About the Author-
  • HEATHER MORRIS is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who 'might just have a story worth telling'. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale's story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    September 30, 2019
    In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis—with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to secure an opportunity tending to the sick and malnourished within the camp. Morris weaves a fast-paced story that captures the immediacy of Cilka’s duties caring for prisoners while appeasing guards at every step, but the brisk speed often papers over a lack of emotional depth and character development. Cilka and those around her respond with a positivity that feels unnatural. Even so, Morris’s propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from October 1, 2019

    Based on real events, Morris's sophomore novel (The Tattooist of Auschwitz) follows a brave young Czech woman from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the gulag at Vorkuta, a Siberian prison labor camp. When the Soviets liberate Birkenau, they sentence 18-year-old Cilka Klein to 15 years hard labor for prostitution and espionage, though she was repeatedly raped by a German officer. En route to Siberia by cattle train, Cilka is fortunate to befriend Josie, who thereafter protects her like a sister. Cilka endures bitterly cold conditions with few provisions, repeated rape, and humiliation but forms a ragtag family with the 20 women of Hut 29. Haunted by the horrible years at Birkenau and the loss of her mother and sister, she longs for a better future. Offered a job in the hospital, she trains as a nurse under the tutelage of a compassionate Georgian volunteer, Dr. Yelena. As Cilka's responsibility grows, from the maternity ward, the infectious disease ward, and the ambulance, she feels purpose and contentment despite the horrors of the gulag where she will spend eight years. VERDICT Fans of Pam Jenoff will enjoy Cilka's incredible story of bravery and love.--Laura Jones, Argos Community Schs., IN

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    November 15, 2019
    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.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publishers Weekly "In the stirring follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Morris tells the story of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again. Morris's propulsive tale shows the goodness that can be found even inside the gulag."
  • Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project

    "The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document..I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they'd read a hundred Holocaust stories or none."
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Cilka's Journey
The Tattooist of Auschwitz Series, Book 2
Heather Morris
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