Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surviving with Wolves by Misha Defonseca

Surviving with WolvesSUMMARY (from Goodreads): This book was supposed to be an amazing true survival story of a little girl whose parents were taken to Auschwitz. She made her way through the woods of Europe during the WW2 and was later adopted by a family of wolves who took care of her. Later she found her way back home but never met her parents again. However, it has been revealed that the author Misha Defonseca (real name Monique De Wael) made up the whole story. She was not even Jewish. De Wael was brought up Catholic but kept on insisting her story was true up until it was found out to be a fabrication in March 2008.


I read this book before finding out that it was made up. I thought it was incredible. Realizing it was all a lie shocked me. I did not know what to think at first. Fictional WW II novels are being written all the time and it is nothing wrong with making up a story about that time which could be true. What bothers me is the lie. The author selling this as her own experience, although it was not, casts a bad light on the book. It would be all right if the author just presented it as her work of fiction.

Nevertheless, I am glad I read this book and I still like it very much. If looked upon as a work of fiction, it is a great book. Some plot elements are exaggerated, but for the most part Mishke’s story could truly happen. After all, anything is possible in this world. And I know plenty of strange things that happened during WW II that I think this story would certainly be possible in those particular circumstances.

Defonseca knows her subject well. Her portrayal of Miske’s psyche, her journey, the people she meets and the animals’ behaviour is credible.

Mishke’s character is amazing. The book is written from Mishke’s point of view. Her narration fits her character and sounds very natural. It made me see things through her eyes and feel what she feels. She is not a wild child or mentally challenged. She is just a child fighting for survival, using the logic she has at hand, the logic based on the scarce information she possesses. The way she is treated by adults is very realistic and so are her reactions. All of this makes Mishke a likeable character. Her way of reasoning is plausible and this is what makes the story sound authentic.

RECOMMENDATION: If you take this book as a work of fiction, Surviving with Wolves is an intriguing narrative of a story that could happen during WW II. It is a fast read with some poignant and straightforward passages about people’s nature.


  1. I hate when authors do that. Why lie? People love novels, not everything has to be a true story. Sadly even though this does sound like an interesting book, I doubt I'll ever be able to read it. I feel the same way about the James Frey book, I can't read it knowing that he lied and it caused such a huge scandal.

  2. I agree, the scandal takes much of the joy away. Had I known about the lie I probably wouldn't read it either, but as I didn't know that at the time it was enjoyable.


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