THE RED RIBBON, by Lucy Adlington, Candlewick Press


Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.

Out September 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

I am told that the final book has sewing graphics throughout the pages which add to the beauty of this book.

I suppose we could argue what is a good, beautiful read when it concerns issues of genocide, cruelty and mass murder because of race.

Throughout human history, there have been documented accounts of mass murder and the wiping out of a race because of prejudice, the strongest and most memorable is the holocaust. This is a horrific part of human history that must be continuously retold in order to keep such things from happening again. And it will, if we are not careful. Over and over again, human history has proven to repeat itself. I don’t know if it’s the nature of the beast or something genetic, but humans are capable of unspeakable cruelty and disgust.  Books like this one, written for the younger generations, are extremely important and must be written. Events contained within pages must be discussed.

It can’t happen again.

Lucy Adlington does a fantastic job outlining a story aimed at young adults about a small group of prisoners in a concentration camp forced to sew for the wives of German elite.  If they work hard, did good work, they may live to see another day. If not…

The characters involved are perfectly written and done so in such a way, you can envision what is going on around the many sewing machines. Their personalities carried the story forward at an enjoyable pace.

It’s so strange that the Germans thought Jews were beneath gutter rot, unintelligent, worthless and of no significance, yet, they didn’t hesitate in stealing their choices of art, literature (if they didn’t burn it), riches & values, and recognize that they had incredible skills with textiles.

I think it’s more about fear. Whatever humans fear, they destroy or fight to destroy, hide, dismiss… I think the Jews were brilliant and so did the Germans, but they would never admit it at this time for fear of being compared to them.

I also think this is the truth behind male dominant races who repress women. They are afraid of women, especially smart ones, and want to dominate them, hold them back and control them out of this fear… but that’s for another discussion.

Being a Jew during this time was incredibly dangerous… being a woman and a Jew… even worse.  Many were abused, humiliated and used before dying. Their heads of long locks were shaved.  Their bodies were shared.

Being a young Jewish girl at this time, was frightening. So to get a job of sewing, away from the mainstream of treatment, was considered a miracle.  Of course, they were not treated better, but their chances of avoiding many things others in the mainstream couldn’t were better.

Although this story didn’t touch on the grotesque and gruesome, it did give an ‘air’ for what life was like for these girls.  Well-written and incredibly plotted, these characters will haunt you for long after you read the book.

I gave it:



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