Friday, May 15, 2009

The Zookeeper's Wife

Title: The Zookeeper's Wife
Author: Diane Ackerman
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 368
Published: 2007
Date Finished: 14 April 2009
My Rating: 3 Stars

Challenges: 100+, Library, New Author, WWII, Name

This is one work of non-fiction that just missed the mark for me. I was really looking forward to reading this account of WWII but found myself frustrated and bored while reading it.
According to the book, The Zookeeper's Wife tells the story of Jan and Antonia Zabinski, zookeepers in Poland who managed to use the zoo and it's facilities to hide and save the lives of countless Jews during the war.
When the book actually focused on the Zabiniskis and their work with the underground it was really interesting. Unfortunately, the author went on too many side trips and tangents that took away from the story of the Zabinskis. Ackerman's background as a naturalist really came through in her writing but I did not pick up this book to read long descriptions of beetles and other insects or animals. There was a lot of history and information included that did not promote or add to the central story but instead distracted from it. I really wish Ackerman could have stayed focused on the Zabinskis and Antonia especially. The times when Antonia's diary was quoted or the narrative shared Antonia's experiences were really great but there just was not enough of those moments in the book.
The story of the Zabinskis is a heroic one of courage and kindness carried out in the most harrowing of circumstances and I think I would have enjoyed their story more in the hands of a different author. It was just too difficult to find a cohesive story in this text.

7 comments:

Tricia said...

My mom listened to this on audio book and really liked it because the style was chatty and lent itself to the spoken word. She does think that she would have liked it less if she were reading it. I'm still on the fence about whether or not to read this one!

Serena said...

I have heard some great things about this book...thanks for providing another side to the discussion.

Jaime said...

I'm actually reading this right now. So far I'm okay with it, though I'm not particularly far... The occupation just begain.

Alyce said...

I remember liking this one when I read it, but that was before I starting writing reviews. I wonder if I have become more critical, and if I would like it as much now.

Trish said...

I was really disappointed in this one, too, Jeanette. I felt like some of the history, although interesting, was really distracting, like you said. Too many tangents!

Belle said...

I have always enjoyed Ackerman's writing, but I can't think of her writing outside of the naturalist perspective, either.

Laura H said...

This is book I just stopped. I gave it over 50 pages but could not read anymore.