Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Orphan #8 by Kim van Alkemade

A stunning debut novel of historical fiction set in the forgotten world of New York City's Jewish orphanages

In 1919, four-year-old Rachel Rabinowitz is placed in the Hebrew Infant Home where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research on the children. Dr. Solomon subjects Rachel to an experimental course of X-ray treatments that establish the doctor's reputation while risking the little girl's health. Now it's 1954, and Rachel is a nurse in the hospice wing of the Old Hebrews Home when elderly Dr. Solomon becomes her patient. Realizing the power she holds over the helpless doctor, Rachel embarks on a dangerous experiment of her own design. Before the night shift ends, Rachel will be forced to choose between forgiveness and revenge.

Inspired by true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful novel about the human capacity to harm—and to love.

About The Author 

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. Her late father, an immigrant from the Netherlands, met her mother, a descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, in the Empire State Building. She attended college in Wisconsin, earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. She is a professor at Shippensburg University where she teaches writing, and lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her creative nonfiction essays have been published in literary journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. Orphan # 8 is her first novel.


My Review 

Orphan Number Eight is actually Rachael Rabinowitz’s story from beginning to the last page. We follow her from the age of four until she is facing a life threatening force, and you will empathize and feel for her all the way through, no mater if she is doing right or wrong.
Rachael is living with her family, her mother, father and brother in a tenement on New York’s lower east side. When tragedy strikes, this little girl’s world is turned up side down, and will never be the same. Rachael and Sam are sent to the Hebrew’s Orphanage Home, and her life takes a terrible turn.
We are with Rachel as she suffers from one injustice to another, and want to help, but the fact that this story is fiction, but based on fact, does not make it any better. To think that a Doctor could get away with giving numbers to children rather than names, hence number eight. It is brought out in the story, but I couldn’t help thinking that this place wasn’t much better than Hitler’s Nazi’s.
I couldn’t put this book down, once I turned the first page I had to read it to the end and it was less than a day, that I turned the final page. I wanted more, yes, but I wanted peace for Rachael.
I recommend this read as an eye opener; life can be very tough, especially for vulnerable children.

I received this book through Harper Collins Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review. 

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