Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings Hadamar: The House of Shudders by Jason Foster

Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to Aus Ya Bloggers and Big Sky Publishing for organising this blog tour and providing me with a review copy.

Lets begin.

“When the truth of what happened within the asylums walls became known, the people of Hadamar gave the institution a nickname. They called it the house of shudders.”

I love how they are using traditional language to describe the Nazi officers and that there is a glossary in the back to refer to. It adds to the authenticity of the book.

I can’t imagine what life must have been like for Ingrid. The colour of her skin betraying her at every stage of her life, being told she was stupid and disgusting and simple, because her mother married a man of colour. It breaks my heart to see how far people went, based on a horribly wrongly perpetuated belief. Ingrid was assaulted, steralized, tormented, taunted and even raped, because of the colour of her skin.

“You have been brought here to decide whether you are a candidate for sterilization” p 16. Ingrid was only 14.

Hadamar, is one of the best books I have read, that focuses on a rarely discussed element of The Holocaust. Yes, it is confronting and emotionally jarring. But it is done in such a way that it is almost gently written, so you can fully grasp what is happening without in depth, detailed explanations.

Ingrid is a fascinating character. She is strong, honest, intellegent and not afraid to ask questions, which, for a woman in her position is incredible. The things that she was forced to do, to stay alive, the horrors that she witnessed and yet she kept going. She kept working and serving and cleaning, focusing on her future, of leaving Hadamar and finally having a dream life.

Hadamar is incredibly well written, the words flow smoothly across the page, easing you in to some of the more confronting moments. Perfectly paced, fast enough to keep the pages turning, but slow enough that the power of the meaning and experiences behind the words, aren’t lost.

I have mixed feelings about the saving of Hadamar, about how the war came to an end and what it meant for those people living in camps. It is such a happy thing, to see hundreds of thousands of people liberated from their horrors. But then you realise, what do they have to go back to? Do they have any family still alive? Is their home still standing? Then the questions about their lives roll in, how will they function in society after living through that horror? Will they be able to love, to make a new family? Or will they be so, incredibly effected by what they lived through, that this freedom is scarier than they imagined.

Foster has written scenes which touch on my above thoughts perfectly. He shows us the towns, the destruction, the almost hopping nature of bombs, destroying some homes but not others. And how sometimes there is that glimmer of hope, that someone from their family survived.

I am so happy that Ingrid made it through her experience at Hadamar. Obviously we knew she did, as this is her story, but there were times there, that I honestly thought she had given up. And who could blame her.

Her input into the war crimes trials would have been instrumental in persecuting the staff from Hadamar. Ingrid was so incredibly brave to speak up, to look those monsters in the eye and call them out for their lies.

Hadamar: The House of Shudders, is one of the most moving, original and honest depictions of the Second World War, that I have read. And I’ve read a lot. This is also the first one I have come across that the view point is from a person of colour. Giving the reader a fresh take on the horiffic time in history.

I really enjoyed how Foster made sure we saw Ingrids story through. The inclusion of the War Crimes Trials really added a layer of transparency, of a deeper connection to the history of the war and how it didn’t really end, after its official end.

Fosted wrapped up this book in such a respectful way, there was no cliche happy ending, there was no forced relationships or extraordinary lives. Just honesty and the notion that surviving something like that changes who you are.

Incredibly well written, Hadamar: The House of Shudders is a book that everyone should read. It is moving, confronting, shocking and horrific. But it also shows the strength of humanity, the power that believing in something gives you.

I am honoured that I got to be a part of the Aus YA Bloggers Blog Tour for this book. It wouldn’t have popped up on my radar otherwise, which would have been a tragic loss for me. So thank you, for the opportunity.

I sincerely hope that if you have read my review, or seen a photo of this book somewhere, that you pick it up. Read it. Inform yourself of the world’s history. The more we know, the less likely it is to happen again.

Happy Reading!

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