Mischling by Affinity Konar
“We don’t always know ourselves, who we can become, what we may do, after evil has done what it likes with us.”
Pearl and Stasha are twins, connected by their minds and able to feel each other’s emotions. They are very similar, but Stasha constantly wishes that she was Pearl. She tries her best to be exactly like her sister in hopes that, one day, maybe she will just become Pearl herself. They both realize that one twin wouldn’t be herself without the other. Pearl and Stasha are taken away to Auschwitz and separated from their mother and grandfather. They are placed in special bunks filled with other pairs of twins and ‘anomalies’. The girls become part of an evil doctor’s experiment, one that tests their ability to stay connected even when they’re far apart. How much can one twin be altered in order for her to stay identical to her sister?
As soon as this book hit the NYT Best Sellers List, I knew I had to get myself a copy as soon as possible. I hadn’t read a book about the holocaust since I studied WW2 in high school a few years ago, so this felt like a very new subject. Affinity Konar absolutely blew me away. Pearl and Stasha were so naïve; it was painful to recognize the horrible situation they were in but not be able to tell them. “Do not trust this doctor that is trying to win you over! He is trying to hurt you!” I wish I could have screamed this to them through the pages of this book. I wish I could have done something instead of helplessly reading about a group of medical professionals lie, manipulate, and experiment on them. Reading Mischling broke my heart.
I will never forget how much love I read in the 338 pages of Mischling, despite all of the sadness and horror surrounding the twins. Pearl and Stasha survive off of their tremendous love for each other, their parents, and grandfather. It keeps them going. Pearl and Stasha tell each other that, as long as they can envision their mother’s paintings, she is still alive and rooting for them. It is beautiful to realize that children can find strength, even through the darkest times, in love.
I did a little bit of reading on Josef Mengele, the twins’ doctor, after I finished Mischling. I don’t even know how to voice my thoughts on such horrible actions this man performed on real, living people. I commend Affinity Konar for this phenomenal book on such a dark subject.
Mischling was amazing. I want to gift this book to a few people for the holidays because it’s just that good. Pearl and Stasha’s story may not be for the light of heart, but I do think everyone should read it at one point in their lives.