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Playing for the Commandant (2012)

af Suzy Zail

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A young Jewish pianist at Auschwitz, desperate to save her family, is chosen to play at the camp commandant's house. How could she know she would fall in love with the wrong boy? "Look after each other...and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us." These are Hanna's father's parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father's words--and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress--are all that she has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests. Staying alive isn't supposed to include falling in love with the commandant's son. But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret. And war makes you do dangerous things.… (mere)
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Engelsk (13)  Italiensk (1)  Alle sprog (14)
Viser 1-5 af 14 (næste | vis alle)
Set in Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp during World War II, young Hannah becomes a pianist for the entertainment of the camp commandant. As Hannah gets used to the commandant’s household, she is alarmed to find herself falling in love with the commandant’s son. Author’s Note.
  NCSS | Jul 23, 2021 |
Set during the holocaust, Hanna Mendel is a Hungarian Jew who is firstly moved to the ghettos and then rounded up and transported to a concentration camp by the Nazis. In the line she is separated from her mother and father but lies about her age to stay with her sister. She and her sister suffer terribly in the camps and then one day the commandant of the camp asks if any girls can play the piano and after auditioning for him, she is selected to be on standby to play at anytime during the day to help the commandant entertain his guests. While waiting silently by the piano in the commandant's house, Hanna is exposed to Karl, the commandant's son who always seems to be in a terrible mood. The more Hanna observes Karl however, the more she comes to realise he is not what he seems and is hiding a kind side from everyone especially his father. It is Karl's actions by hiding food for the Jews in the laundry that convinces her that he is actually a kind human being . The Russians are coming though as the Nazis are losing the war; what will happen to Karl and his father when they finally get to the concentration camp?

Fairly accurate portrayal of the atrocities wrought by the Nazis on the Jews and based on the author's recollections from members of her own family.
  nicsreads | Jul 14, 2021 |
Ho iniziato questo libro con poca voglia e molto scetticismo: tutto (dal titolo ad effetto alla trama), mi lasciava pensare che fosse un romanzo furbetto, che si serve della tragedia del'olocausto per attirare giovani lettrici in cerca di storie d'amore "proibite". In parte i miei timori erano fondati, infatti la love story ed i dialoghi sono surreali e fuori contesto sia sociale che psicologico; tuttavia il tono del libro è più delicato di quanto mi aspettassi e non scade mai nel ridicolo o nel melodrammatico, pur con alcune ingenuità che mi hanno a volte divertito e a volte infastidito. Continuo a storcere il naso all'idea di un romance ambientato ad Auschwitz, ma ammetto che la questione è trattata con garbo e che non gira tutto intorno alla relazione tra i protagonisti.
E' un prodotto insignificante ma innocuo, che riesce ad intrattenere per qualche ora senza alcuna pretesa di profondità nello stile o nei contenuti. ( )
  Lilirose_ | Aug 25, 2017 |
"The Wrong Boy" is a gritty little novel about fifteen-year-old Hanna who, along with her family, is taken from her home and sent to Auschwitz. The reader is given an awful insight into the life of this camp, the cruelties, degradations, horrors and struggles to just stay alive. Hanna is a very likeable character. Throughout the book she feels shame, fear, guilt and hopelessness, but at all times she remains determined, determined to stay alive and tell the world about what she and the other women have had to endure. Although there is a romance woven through the plot, it is only of a secondary nature. "The Wrong Boy" is another well-written holocaust story and is a good companion to Boyne's "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" and Gleitzman's "Once". ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
An amazing story of survival, this book kept me spellbound at the horrors this young girl had to endure. I liked that the author didn't hesitate to drop the reader right into the middle of Auschwitz and the tearful separation between family members. The author incorporated a ton of details about the camp itself and the experience of the prisoners. The research required for such a work as this was evident throughout the book.

At the beginning, I did feel the lack a bit of an introduction to Hanna and her family. Yet, as the story went along, that lack didn't seem to matter so much. The author does a fantastic job in introducing her characters and letting her readers get to know them throughout the narrative. As a result, I felt every emotion, heartache, and burst of hope after all the horrors were over.

I felt like I got to know the character of Hanna, just as well as if she was my own little sister experiencing this trial. She’s a thoughtful character who’s devoted to her family and artistic craft. She dedicated herself to helping her sister when she got the opportunity to get a better job and was broken when she couldn't always follow-up on that dedication. Yet, there were also moments where the young, innocent teenager showed through as well: her undying belief that her parents are alive and just somewhere else in the camp and her momentary flashes of selfishness when she just eats the food available rather than saving it to split with Erika.

I do have a bit of an issue with this book being touted as a “romance”, though. Sure, there is tenderness between Karl and Hanna, and I enjoyed that journey toward what might have been called “romance” in the future. What scenes they had together were powerful in their subtlety and hints at what could be/might have been. But at the end of the day, it just feels that the power of Hanna’s survival story and her piano talents were the star of the story (not that that’s a bad thing, it’s a great story!). Karl almost seems sidelined as a secondary thought, which is a sad point as he had a ton of potential.

Beyond a bit of wrong billing and a lack of introduction to the book’s players, this book was a fantastic look at a young girl’s journey through hell, out to the other side. The author does a fantastic job at characterization for her main character and in creating a setting of true horror that transported this reader smack dab into that hell. Don’t let the fact that this isn't really a romance turn you off; the story of a young girl navigating the Holocaust stands firm on its own as a fantastic reason to read this book. Recommended for readers of Holocaust fiction, especially the YA readers, and for the 70th anniversary it Auschwitz's liberation. ( )
  Sarah_Gruwell | Jan 13, 2016 |
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Nessuno nasce odiando i propri simili a causa della razza, della religione, o della classe alla quale appartengono. Gli uomini imparano a odiare, e se possono imparare a odiare possono anche imparare ad amare, perché l'amore, per il cuore umano, è più naturale dell'odio.

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A young Jewish pianist at Auschwitz, desperate to save her family, is chosen to play at the camp commandant's house. How could she know she would fall in love with the wrong boy? "Look after each other...and get home safe. And when you do, tell everyone what you saw and what they did to us." These are Hanna's father's parting words to her and her sister when their family is separated at the gates of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Her father's words--and a black C-sharp piano key hidden away in the folds of her dress--are all that she has left to remind her of life before. Before, Hanna was going to be a famous concert pianist. She was going to wear her yellow dress to a dance. And she was going to dance with a boy. But then the Nazis came. Now it is up to Hanna to do all she can to keep her mother and sister alive, even if that means playing piano for the commandant and his guests. Staying alive isn't supposed to include falling in love with the commandant's son. But Karl Jager is beautiful, and his aloofness belies a secret. And war makes you do dangerous things.

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