This is a story about a Antonina, a Polish woman and zookeeper’s wife, during World War II. Her story is told by Diane Ackerman, who uses Antonina’s journal to create a real and true story about Antonina’s family and their experiences during the German invasion of Poland in the early 1940s.
This book was probably the best one I’ve read all year. I’m not big on nonfiction or war stories, but this was fantastic. The writing was so descriptive and vivid, from both Ackerman and Antonina. I really appreciate Ackerman’s efforts to really get to know Antonina and give a full picture into her life and emotions. I felt like Antonina was telling the whole story herself.
A quote on the back of the book says “The Zookeeper’s Wife will touch every nerve you have,” and I can’t think of a better way to describe the power of this book. Ackerman’s writing makes you feel like you’re right there with Antonina, experiencing every second of anxiety and terror.
The most compelling lesson I took from this book was that, in most situations, there is a right thing to do, and it is my duty to do that thing, because other people’s welfare may depend on it. Antonina’s husband, Jan, risked his life every day to help his Jewish friends, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t have tried to stop my husband from risking his life to help others. Probably the more important lesson for me is that you can’t try to stop other people from doing what is right just to keep them safe. I think Jan said something in the book like, you have to do whatever you can, no matter the cost, because it’s the right thing to do.
I give this book 5 stars and recommend it to everyone!