For the longest time I refused to read Night by Elie Wiesel. I kept telling myself that it was just another heart-breaking story of a young boy who lived through the Holocaust. I didn’t want to face the unsettling and depressing account that has haunted my bookshelf all these years. Eventually I realized that hiding from something doesn’t make it go away, in fact, it usually gets worse. If every person on this planet denies the stories of these people and avoids talking and thinking about that horrible time, what’s to stop it from happening again? So I read it.
The story follows Eliezer (a character invented to distance the author from the experience) through his experiences in Auschwitz, Buna, and Gleiwitz. His experiences jump out and possess the reader. We follow his complicated love-hate relationship with a God that has abandoned God’s most devoted followers. We wonder with him why the rest of the world remained silent in the face of such brutality. We see inhumanity toward other humans through the eyes of one who experienced it. We celebrate the beautiful father-son relationship while regretting that this relationship results in a sacrifice.
I don’t really know what else to say about this book except that it was exactly what I expected: gloomy, heartbreaking, horrifying, and shocking. It’s not a good book since the events that take place within these pages are certainly not good, but it is well written and worth reading. It is bleak and blunt; Elie Wiesel does not hold back in the recounting of his tale.
How did you react to Night?