Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unfinished: The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman



by Diane Ackerman
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9780393333060
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: My Shelves
Rating: 0/5


When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.






When I read (or listen to) a book about WWII or the Holocaust the one thing I expect in the book is emotion. How can you tell a story about such a devastating time and not have the emotions come through loud and clear? I didn't think it was possible until I started reading The Zookeeper's Wife.

I made it about 100 pages into the book and the story was terribly dry. I know that a story needs to be set up and explained, but those 100 pages were pretty much background info. I was a third of the way through the book and these still wasn't any mention of helping to smuggle Jews out of the country.

Since I left this one unfinished, that means my WWII Challenge was left one book short of completion. If any of you have read this one, does it get better? 0 stars

15 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I can't help you on this one, as I haven't read it. I've been wanting to read it, since it is a topic I'm drawn to. Someone recently said they wished it would be made into a movie. I'll be interested to see who speaks up.

Book Dilettante said...

Some books just have the best parts at the end. This book might be like that.

Jeane said...

I'm disappointed to heard that. I want to read this one, but I get really discouraged when books start out very dry. I'll still give it a try, though...

Jaime said...

I gave it up too... I wanted to know more about the people, not the zoo and the plants and the trees.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

From what I remember (I read it a few years ago) it held my interest through the end. You are right though, it did lack a bit of emotion especially with it being about the Holocaust. But it read more like a history book than a memoir.

Susan said...

I couldn't get into this one either, although the last third was much, much more exciting than the rest of it. I wanted to hear more about the humans than the animals, but Ackerman was obviously concerned with animals first, then humans. You can read my review if you're interested - http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/2007/11/wwii-from-animal-point-of-view.html

Susan
www.blogginboutbooks.com

Diane said...

OUCH>>>> I did read this book and recall rating it a 4/5. I thought it was good but way way too much detail that could have been left out IMO.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Okay, I'm really glad you posted this. I just read Zookeeper about a week ago, and it took me a good 50-75 pages to get into it. I think it just wasn't what I was initially expecting. I ended up enjoying it for what it was but wasn't as pleased with the book as I thought I would be.

purplg8r said...

I remembered that I read it but I don't remember much else about it so I went and looked in my spreadsheet and I only gave it a 2 out of 5...I must not have liked it either!

Zibilee said...

Gosh, I am sorry to hear that this book was so dry! I had been wanting to read it, but now I don't think I would end up liking it very much. I agree that a topic such as this needs some emotion, and to think that this book is stingy with it really turns me off. I hope your next read is better!!

Marie said...

I haven't read it, but it's been on my list for awhile. Sorry it didn't work out.

Fyrefly said...

It's been a while, but I remember it being very dry as well, and too distant. I did finish it, though, so it can't have been all that bad.

Karyn said...

Thanks for the review and comments. I'm taking it off my list.

LisaMM said...

I DNF this one either. I'm interested in the subject but like you said, it was so utterly devoid of emotion, I felt like I was reading a text book. SO bland.

Jo-Jo said...

I have this one on my shelf but after reading all the comments about it reading like a textbook, that is where it will probably stay.