Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Orphan # 8 was Rachel Rabinowitz, but she didn't start out as an orphan. This story follows Rachel's life, through all of the ugly twists and turns at the beginning, to the kindness of strangers who helped her along the way and eventually to Rachel herself as she must come to terms with her own past in order to face her uncertain future. Rachel's story exposes some of the ugly truths about our society, including medical experiments on groups of orphans, to the exclusion and negative societal attitudes about homosexuals, but her story also inspires hope through the kindest of strangers or even the hopeful advice from a holocaust survivor. Ultimately Rachel must decide for herself how to deal with the woman who inflicted cruel and unnecessary experiments on her as a child, when that same doctor is admitted to her ward in the hospital. In her treatment of this doctor, Rachel must confront the ghosts of her past and find the courage to deal with her own health issues that she has been neglecting. The writing was well done, but felt somewhat repetitive at times. The story switched easily from past to present with great historical details. Rachel's story is all the more tragic when considering that while the novel is fiction, according to the author's website, medical research on children in orphanages was a common practice, and that there really are children who grew up like Rachel. I really enjoyed this story and would recommend it to any fans of historical fiction.
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