Maus II

Art Spielelman

In this graphic novel/biography sequel, Artie continue Vladek's story, chronicling his time in Auschwitz, and after liberation. The details of Vladek's story not only depict the hard, everyday realities of concentration camp life, but they show how random survival was Vladek and his companions.  At times, Vladek was smart, shrewdly befriending those who could help him.  But, many other times, he and Anja were just lucky. They survived; most of their friends and family did not.  And, those who were imprisoned had almost not control over their own fates. Vladek describes his schemes to get extra food for Anja and the means he used to escape "selektions" that could have sent him to the gas chamber, in such detail that you feel like you have a true sense of what life in Auschwitz was like.  The story continues through the end of WWII, when the retreating Germans transported and killed thousands more Jewish people to hide their evil deeds, and just out of cruelty.  And, after Vladek is liberated, he continues to find both friends and enemies out in the non-German world. The cruelty towards Jews that persists belies the myth that only the Nazis were anti-semitic. 

Throught the book, we also seen Artie's continuing rough relationship with the now-ailing Vladek.  They struggle to make peace with each other.  Vladek is at turns comical and pathetic, as he cannot let go of the survival strategies that served him in the past.  Young readers might find these sections less interesting than the historical pieces, but the complete picture they draw, of families affected, for generations, by the Holocaust are enlightening. 

Reading Level: 
Heads up - topics in this book that might require further discussion: 
Death of a parent/close family member
Death of main character
Suicide/ Attempted suicide
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