It seems incongruous that a novel about twins subjected to Mengele’s experiments in Auschwitz would be a pleasure to read, but reading Affinty Konar’s Mischling filled me with more hope for humanity than fear of that which we are capable. It is important that we continue to tell stories about the worst we can do, and it is imperative that we tell those stories while acknowledging what it takes to survive.
The story of Stasha and Pearl is harrowing and nearly impossible to reconcile; however, Konar is deftly served by her choice to use children’s voices to tell her story. Pearl and Stasha, these “pretender(s) to adulthood,” are twelve years old as the novel begins. Their child’s eyes do not soften the blow of the horrors they suffer, but they heighten the sense of possibility and hope in a time and place with very little of both.
Our world is built upon countless cruelties and kindnesses and our sanity stands on the willingness to forgive the one and hold to the other. It often seems that the worst of our capacities far outstrips the best. We are a divisive race. That is all the more reason to hold tight to what tethers us together. Family and history bridge the widest gaps amongst us. Mischling is a novel of both.
A New York Times Notable Book
An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
An Indie Next Pick
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Flavorwire Best Book of the Year
An Elle Best Book of the Year