Friday, 13 February 2015

Book Review - Unravelled, Anna Scanlon

"No one heard us. They decided not to, to turn their heads away. 

It was too much to bear. Too much to know. Too hard to swallow. 

But now that the world knows, now that the world has heard, it all seems so simple, so easy to defray. 

I screamed and no one heard. 

Next time, will you be listening?"

As I've mentioned, this year I've been making an effort to get back into reading for pleasure again, and I have also been trying to get more use from my Kindle. 

Last month, PhD student, author and blogger Anna Scanlon celebrated a year since the release of her novel Unravelled by giving away free e-copies of the book. I downloaded a copy as soon as I saw her blog post announcing the offer and the other week I finally got round to reading the book. With commuting to my latest hospital placement, I had plenty of time in the morning to sit and read on the bus and I was easily able to lose myself in the story on the bus each day.

I've been reading Anna's blog for a number of months now, and I was initially worried that I'd struggle to properly engage with the book when I'd read so much about the processes of her writing and self publishing, and generally her day to day life! I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wasn't the case at all - Anna's writing drew me in to the story just as any other book where I know nothing about the author would do.

Unravelled tells the story of a young Hungarian girl, Hajna who, along with her family, is taken from her happy childhood life to Auschwitz where she is subjected to experimentation and cruelty. Hajna survives the ordeal, but then has to learn to carry on with her life despite it having been torn apart.

The story is written in two halves. The first is told from the perspective of Hajna and the discrimination, segragation and ultimately torture she faces at the hands of the Nazis. The second half comes from the perspective of Hajna's American cousin, Isabelle, as her family take in Hajna and must learn to deal with the effects Auschwitz has had on her.

The book touches on the strength of family and the pain of separation. It deals with discrimination and injustice. Most of all, it captures how an innocent young girl gets caught up in wide-scale terror and the impossible task of having to come to terms with her experience.

My knowledge of little details of history is not at all impressive - despite my A in GCSE history, it's not something I've ever really pursued - but reading this book even I could get a feel that Anna has tried to be as historically accurate as possible. This is no fairytale, no attempt is made to try and soften the realities of what the Holocaust victims were subject to. It feels real and raw. The writing is hauntingly descriptive and conveys the emotions of the characters perfectly. The way Anna has stuck to facts and backed up her writing with with real research and accounts makes this all the more sensitive to the real life victims.

This feeling of authenticity also made me want to find out more and on a couple of occasions I put the book down in order to look things up, such as who Mengele was and what the purpose of his wartime experiments were. I never picked up this book intending to learn things, but it made me curious.

The book is fast paced and easy to follow - I managed to finish it in just a few sittings. As I reached the final chapters of this book, I felt like the story was really getting going again - something which certainly bodes well for the release of the sequel!

You can find Anna's blog with more information about her  writing here:



  1. Wow this sounds really interesting! I know it sounds geeky but I love books like these - an interesting story/plot as well as educational. I'm definitely going to check out her blog! xx

    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

    1. I don't think it's geeky at all! I prefer things that are more realistic and that I can learn a few bits from :) xx

  2. Thank you Jenny for this great post! :) I am currently writing the sequel and it gives me motivation knowing people are excited for the book. :) xxx

    1. You're welcome! I'm definitely excited to know what happens next :) xxx

  3. Replies
    1. I highly recommend reading it!

    2. Thanks Em! I hope you pick up a copy. xx

  4. Great review! This sounds like a great book. Definitely adding it to my to-read list.

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings


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