Book Review: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will -- and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside?

Based on an astonishing true story.

Release Date: March 1, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: NetGalley

What a haunting and compelling read!  Prisoner B-3087 brought me to tears many times, but it was not until the end that I really let loose, after I knew Yanek's ultimate fate.  I love that this book is based on a true story.  The horrors Yanek faces are so terrible that they are almost unbelievable.  It would be easy to tell myself that Gratz was embellishing---but, knowing that the book is based on a true story makes the story so much more real.

When I told my husband about the book I'd sped through in an afternoon, because I literally could not put it down, he asked me why I'd read something so sad.  "You have enough problems of your own, enough sad things in your life.  Why in the world would you read a book like that," he said.  I replied with the following (I'd had some time to prepare my response because I knew he could tell I'd been crying):
The Holocaust happened.  It happened to thousands and thousands of people.  It was not that long ago, when you really think about it.  I don't want to forget that.  I read books like this to remember.  I read books like this to honor the ones who did not survive, and to honor those who did.  I read books like this to hold space in my heart for others whose struggles just to survive I cannot even fathom.
If you're wondering if Prisoner B-3087 is worth your time, it is.  It made me cry, but also felt like a testament to the strength of the human spirit.  I highly recommend it.  


  1. Wow. Great review. Great conversation between you and your husband.

  2. Thanks for the great review! I'm glad it meant so much to you, and I totally agree with everything you told your husband. This was a hard book for me to write, for the same reasons it's a hard book to read, but I did it for all the same reasons you gave your husband.

    1. Thank YOU for the comment, and most of all for writing such an outstanding book! I am still thinking about this book weeks later.

    2. My 11 year old just finished this book and told me that it was the best book he's ever read. Which means he liked it better than Hunger Games. :) 2 thumbs up!

  3. I LOVE THIS BOOK. Its soo heart breaking and sad. But i like reading this to remember too.

  4. i didn't like the book at all

  5. I love that book it was sad and touching. The first time was for a book report, then I read it 3 more times. Truly a great story


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