the cover of The Nine

Reviewed: “The Nine” by Gwen Strauss

I have a hard time review non-fiction books sometimes, because it always seems like a disservice to the people the book is about. This is especially true with the story of Helene, Nicole, Jacky, Zaza, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Mena, and Josee.

These nine women formed a friendship in a Nazi concentration camp of all places. They’d all worked if different arms of the French Resistance, and they’d all been caught and sent to Ravensbruck. And then they found each other.

It’s almost like a female version of Stephen Ambrose’s story of the 101st Airborne’s famed “Band of Brothers” only this ‘band of sisters’ were not soldiers and they could not rely on weapons to get out of danger.

They relied on their minds, their guile, their cunning, their femininity, and perhaps most importantly – the bonds of female friendship.

Though some were sick with typhoid, diphtheria, pneumonia, badly blistered feet, injured hips, starvation… they decided early on that where one went, all would go. If all could not go, none would go.

It’s a stunning story to read, especially in light of how the modern world would have us believe that women, while devoted and strong and brave, are plagued by toxic friendships that always threaten to drag us done.

I don’t want to say that we all need to face the things these French, Dutch, and Spanish women faced but… we can do better than we do. If they could do what they did, we can do anything.

They did. They did the most important thing of all.

(Thanks to BookishFirst, St. Martin’s Press, and Gwen Strauss for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest & original review.)

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