Irena by Jean-David Morvan and Severine Trefouel was definitely a rough book to read through, though the hardest parts were definitely more toward the end. A graphic novel detailing one woman’s determined and exemplary efforts to get children out of concentration camps and to safety during the time of WWII, Irena is one of the most amazing stories from the history of this world. More amazing than all those generals we always hear about and the acts of war that were fought, often because one side didn’t agree with the other, this is the story of a woman who saw something that was wrong and immoral and did everything she could to stop it.
There are a lot of dark themes to this book, which isn’t surprising given what it is written about. I found myself horrified and dejected at times whilst reading. And then at other times, the amazing work of Irena Sendlerowa and her colleagues was incredibly uplifting. And it really does an amazing job of driving home an important message: while the rest of the world might be sending you into despair and hatred for the human race, people like Irena give you a little bit of that hope you lost back. Those who, despite the odds and risk to themselves, will never stop fighting for what is right.
I do often get sick of how many WWII stories end up getting published. This is not because I have a problem with them or because I think there should be less, but because sometimes you can feel like it’s just the same story written by a different author. And honestly, the sheer number can be kind of annoying. But in the case of Irena, this is a story that needs to be told and one that I read gladly. I’d gladly read it again.
I can also see this book being great for younger teen readers, those who aren’t quite old enough to read some of the more difficult texts, but who are interested in history and should be made aware of the horrors of this time. This is one of those books that really gets to you, and while you’re left feeling heartbroken at points, at least you’ll know in the end that there are still good people left in the world even during the worst of times.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.