Title: Paper Hearts
Author: Meg Wiviott
Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Books in Verse
Number of Pages: 332
I really wish I had liked this book better than I did. It was based on an emotionally affecting true story I’d never heard of before and it had a lot of potential, but it ultimately fell flat for me. Paper Hearts is the story of two Jewish girls (Zlatka and Fania) who are rounded up with their families and sent to Auschwitz. Several of their family members are killed right away but Zlatka and Fania are kept alive and forced to labor in a factory under nearly unlivable conditions.
Even though they’re filthy and starving, Zlatka decides to make something for Fania’s birthday so she can give her a little bit of happiness. She risks her life stealing supplies and makes a heart out of cloth which she and some other girls sign. The story behind this book is really inspiring but I thought the execution was somewhat lacking. The two characters aren’t developed at all and their voices sound completely identical. I kept looking back over and over again trying to figure out what girl’s POV I was reading.
Because of the lack of character development and the two protagonist’s near-saintly personalities (neither of them show any trace of self-centeredness in a horrifying situation) I felt there was a lack of emotional potency. I didn’t feel anything while reading that and that’s extremely rare for a book about the Holocaust. Usually it’s hard not to be devastated by books that deal with this subject and I thought the true story this was based on deserved to be handled better.