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'Night' by Elie Wiesel

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
User Rating 4.5 Star Rating (14 Reviews)

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Night by Elie Wiesel

Courtesy Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The Bottom Line

Night, by Elie Wiesel, provides a short and moving account of Wiesel's experience in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The subject matter is difficult to think about, but it is important to deal with and remember nonetheless. Night is well written, and a good resource for teenagers and adults who are reading about the Holocaust for the first time or studying the subject in depth.

Pros

  • Honest, firsthand account
  • Accessible - A short volume with clear writing
  • Important - A story the world needs to remember

Cons

  • Heavy content - Not beach reading

Description

  • A teenage boy ripped from his home by Nazis
  • A faithful Jew whose God dies in a Nazi death camp
  • A true story that we would rather not think about, but need to hear and remember

Book Review

Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a hard book to read. The writing is clear and the volume is short, but it is difficult nonetheless. Who wants to read about torture and genocide, about people being ripped from their homes, losing their faith and turning on their own families? It is depressing, to say the least.

Night is not, however, primarily about making the reader sad or dwelling on the past. It is about remembering. Wiesel wrote his memoir so that we would remember what happened and remember what civilized humans are capable of.

Part of me wants this book to do more than remember. I am disturbed by the fact that Wiesel never returns to hope or faith. He raises big questions about humanity and suffering, but the book never points toward a meaningful answer. I want redemption, or at least some hint of light.

But Wiesel did not experience light, and Night will not let the reader pretend the Holocaust was anything other than what it was. Wiesel tells the complete truth about his experience, and the reader is left with hard questions.

Remembering, however, is not a fruitless task. We remember so that we can tackle the big questions honestly and so we can change. We remember because Rwanda and Darfur prove the lessons of the Holocaust still need to be learned. We may not want to remember, but we should. So, read.

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