Orphan Number 8 by Kim van Alkemade

Orphan Number 8 is an interesting book about a a girl growing up in a New York city Jewish orphanage in the 1920’s. The book was inspired by true events and Kim van Alkemade delves into a story about one girl who must choose between revenge  or mercy. The story follows Rachel Rabinowitz, who ended up in the orphanage after her mother died and her father ran away in fear. Rachel, only four years old at the time, was seperated from her brother, Sam, and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Solomon performed experimental research on Rachel, and other children within the orphanage.

Years later, Rachel, now a nurse at Old Hebrews Home, comes face to face with a very ill Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon admit, and apologize for what she did to her as a child, and Rachel must decide if revenge is worth it, or should she show the old Doctor some mercy?

The book delves in and out of Rachel’s life in the orphanage, along with her brother Sam, and then also focuses on her current life as a nurse in the Old Hebrews Home. It also touches on the war, the Nazi’s, the Holocaust, and also the issue of same sex relationships. I definitely enjoyed the book, however, it was a much easier read than I had anticipated. When I read what the book was about I expected it to be a heavy book, one that would drag you in emotionally and therefore would be hard to read, however, that was not the case. I found the book to be a bit “fluffy” in that it didn’t into any of the issues at depth, it merely brushed over them all and was a surprisingly easy read. I found myself wanting more from this book.

As I mentioned, the book is inspired by true events, and unfortunately real children in real orphanages were subject to this horrible medical research, so I don’t want to simply brush the book off as light and fluffy when it is about such horrible historical events. However, I wanted the author to go further into the story, to go deeper and bring us, the readers with her. I did enjoy at the end of the book there was information about the real orphanage, the real Dr. Solomon and some notes about what really happened there, and I found that very interesting. It is also a good read for a book club, as there are many discussion points within the book. Overall, I really wanted this book to be a 5, but I gave it a 3. Buy it on Amazon here:
Orphan #8: A Novel