Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott // A Nice Holocaust Tale

Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Paper Hearts, by Meg Wiviott
Publication: September 1, 2015, by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Historical
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: ½

Amid the brutality of Auschwitz during the Holocaust, a forbidden gift helps two teenage girls find hope, friendship, and the will to live in this novel in verse that’s based on a true story.
An act of defiance.A statement of hope.A crime punishable by death.
Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.
Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.
This novel is based on the true story of Fania and Zlatka, the story of the bond that helped them both to hope for the best in the face of the worst.

My Thoughts:

I'm the world's biggest fan of books about the Holocaust and books with beautiful covers that you can touch and fawn over. Paper Hearts is a book that features both of those two things I just mentioned: a gorgeous cover, and a true story about friendship, war and loss, all tossed into the dark times of the Holocaust. Meg Wiviott will never fail to disappoint a reader with her tale, written in beautiful, memorable verse. I just can't get this story out of my mind.

Since my background is Polish, I've been thrown into a bunch of history lectures about the war, and basically have been prone to pick up any YA Holocaust book that is ever published. And plus, this really interests me and I love reading about the different experiences which many young people faced, things that they were forced to encounter without anything to say. One of my favourite things about this novel is that it is taken place in Poland, in different cities or concentration camps that created history, and those that I had to head to the computer to look up. It's such a meaningful story.

"We will stick close together so no one will be alone on a Kommando at night in the Koje. We will be each other's family. I unfolded a corner of my heart." (115-116) 

There are five girls who Wiviott focuses on: Fania, Zlatka, Bronia, Giza, and Guta, and they all are in Auschwitz, one of the largest and most killer concentration camps in the whole war. Zlatka and Fania turned out to be best friends, but Wiviott's audience doesn't even know how they met. They make origami paper hearts for each other which began a legacy, giving many other girls in the camp happiness and hope, hope for freedom and living a different life after the war. 

IT'S A TRUE STORY. WOW. Wiviott has actually really made an inspirational tale which will probably cause me to run over to Montreal, hours away from my small town, searching for these origami hearts that I have read about, but never have heard about beforehand. I bet that many, many of her readers presently or in the future will choose to take that route as well, because part of my heart has been given to Fania and Zlatka, two girls who remind me so much of myself, and who definitely would've become best friends with Anne Frank, another young woman who created a legacy for young people, showing them that freedom is possible no matter what situation you find yourself in.

Aside from the fact that the war felt tormenting toward me, leaving me with an endless amount of chills and weird feelings of sorrow and sadness, I felt happy at times reading about these girls. The five main characters turned out to have five different personalities and attributes that can make every reader feel like they fit with one of them perfectly. For me, that person was Zlatka, the one and only. 

Wiviott's writing is pretty swell. I loved her use of poetry, because this kind of tale is the perfect way to resemble and represent the beautiful writing style that is more deep than an average narrative. I did get bored at times as the pacing of their friendship got too fast and rapid for what it's worth, but the meaning of the story and friendship is what kept me going, even though some parts were unreal. 

"Rain pelted down, tears shed by God and all His angels." (226)
With her writing, Wiviott is capable to create those little sentences that mean so much, that have a meaning beyond what is seen. It's soft, gentle and heartwarming, unlike many of those sorrow, gory war tales about cellars and gas chambers. It wasn't only about the war, but about people keeping their hopes up, which tells us that anything is possible.

Paper Hearts has inspired me in tons of ways, beyond measure. I feel like cutting out a million paper hearts, and taking a plane to Poland and dropping them all around Auschwitz, or at least the memorial area, leaving my own legacy and doing something good to make me feel like anything is possible. Not many novels are able to give readers an experience despite the fact that they hadn't even set foot in the world which the author's writing about. If you enjoy poetry and a special group of characters, you will be stunned. 

What book(s) have inspired you before? Where would you like to travel the most from where a book's setting was?


  1. So I had never heard of this book before reading your review and by the end of it I am going to be reading it and am growing my TBR pile a bit more. I think it is important to read true stories about the Holocaust and being a history student of higher level it can even help me in schoolwork. But it was such a horrible time in history - one of humanities worse moments and it is important to remember it and never forget. Books are a way of doing this for sure.

    1. Definitely! Ooooh you're a history student! This is a very unique take of your average Holocaust tale. But then again, no Holocaust tale is ordinary or redone because every victim has their own story. And the best thing is that this is based on a true story about a crew of young girls who never wanted war as a part of their life. I'd definitely go for it, especially because of the messages that it teaches.


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