Friday, April 11, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Block 24 by Evan Tyler

A re-emergence of the past…

Natalie Clarke might be spiteful at best and vicious at worst, but was that reason enough for Phillip Gise to leave her lonely and diseased? Fortunately, she has a set of devious plans that just might keep her busy enough to forget her present situation.

Guy Lewis has played Best Friend Extraordinaire to Natalie since grade school, supporting her through all of her daily drama. This time around, Guy runs into his own troubles when his fierce, wealthy manager gives him the type of attention he never asked for…or expected.

Julia Clarke, Natalie’s younger sister, has arrived in Brooklyn to uncover their grandmother’s secret life in Block 24, the site of Auschwitz’s little-known brothel. What Julia discovers proves more relevant in the present age than ever before.

Both heady and sobering, Block 24 is a look at the ways evil from the past can so insidiously visit the present.

5 Brilliant stars by Nicole Lorenzo

"Pity those who have a choice of freedom and choose to live in the prisons they create with their own hands."

Block 24 is a beautiful yet heart wrenching story about two sets of sisters set in both the past and present.

 In the present we have Natalie and Julia who couldn’t be any more different if they tried. Natalie is a selfish, spoiled brat who gets what she wants, when she wants it and if not she will do whatever it takes to make sure she gets it! She takes everything for granted including her relationships with her best friend Guy and her boyfriend Philip. She has a nonexistent relationship with her sister Julia and keeps everyone else in her life at arm’s length. When we first meet Natalie she and Philip have an argument and break up. From there we see bits and pieces of their relationship from when they first met to the present. I kept waiting for Natalie to show some sort of redeeming quality, but she actually got worse!  Her anger, hatefulness and selfishness saw no end and it seemed as if Natalie wouldn’t be happy till she was completely alone. Underneath it all Natalie is just a girl battling the crippling insecurities that prevent her from having a happy and fulfilled life.

“Some people aren't hard to love; they're just bad at being loved.”

Julia is the complete and total opposite of Natalie. She is sweet, kind hearted and close with her family. She is shy when it comes to men and has a slight crush on her sister’s boyfriend.  Julia wants to be a film maker. She travels to Brooklyn to work on a film documenting her Grandmothers time in Auschwitz. It’s there in Brooklyn where we meet Adina Mortkowicz, or as Julia calls her Bubbe, and where we hear the story of Block 24.

Adina and Avigail Mortkowicz were 17 and 14 years old when they were taken from their mother’s home by German soldiers. It was 1944 in Poland and the girls were put on a train and sent to Auschwitz. Once there they were sent to work in Block 24, a brothel meant to service the soldiers and the male prisoners.  The girls were put through unspeakable horrors, but still Adina was determined to come out of this alive and protect her younger sister.

“I had not yet truly experienced life, but death seemed as tangible as heaven or hell.”

Adina and Avi had a Guardian Angel at Block 24 in the form of a young soldier named Hans. Hans looked out for the girls, made sure they weren’t treated poorly and even stood guard outside their doors so they wouldn’t have to “receive” any more men than necessary. He would come to their rooms, just to talk, it gave them something to look forward to. It gave them hope. It helped them survive.

“Always make time for love. It will nourish you when you are starving. It’ll keep you going when you think you’ve lost it all.”

Block 24 is a story about love. Love of family, true love, unrequited love, love of oneself, loss of love, selfless love. Each story intertwined and connected, including the past and the present making this book so unique and quite unforgettable. Some of the subject matter was so raw and not all of it was easy to read. There were times when I put the book down and definitely shed a tear or two, but I kept turning the pages, immersed in this story and dreading the end.  The strength and resilience of Adina is just remarkable. The characters in this book were all strong, even the flawed ones, even the secondary ones. I loved every second of this book and I am so very thankful to Evan Tyler for sharing her gift with us.

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