Title: Orphan #8
Author: Kim van Alkemade
Page Count: 381 pages
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Buy It: Chapters Indigo
In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.
Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.
I feel tired just writing this review. This book was mentally heavy. It was very good but it definitely sucked me dry. I had a heaviness on my chest reading each word. What an incredibly powerful read.
We follow Rachel, a nurse in the 1940s who is tasked with helping a patient, who was a doctor in her time. With some nagging feeling Rachel decides to look into the doctor to figure out what it is about her that is so familiar to Rachel. Discovering that this patient was her doctor when she was but a babe she spirals into secrets and fuzzy memories. By discovering what happened to her as a child you ride a wave of emotions with Rachel. She was incredibly complicated and at times I actually disliked her even though some horrific things were done to her. I found this book really tested your emotions in every sense.
Really glad to have read this with a bookclub because it needed a lot of discussion. Orphan #8 is a page turner I found myself not wanting to put it down but needing to take many breaks just because the tone was so intense.
Looking for a book to test your emotions and really make you think? Pick up Orphan #8.