Cilka’s Journey Book Review

For untold generations, women have been told that our beauty is our only asset. But during war, using our looks may mean the difference between life and death.

Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris is a follow up to her previous novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Based on a true story, Cecilia “Cilka” Klein is just sixteen when she was transported to Auschwitz from her home in Czechoslovakia. She is saved from the gas chambers by her looks and is forced to become a sexual slave. When the war is over, Cilka looks forward to freedom.

Instead, she is accused of willfully sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian work camp. The conditions in the gulag are similar to those in Auschwitz. But there is one difference: the kindness of a female doctor. This doctor gives Cilka the opportunity to work in the camp hospital. This job helps to bring Cilka back to life and show her that love is still possible.

When we talk about the Holocaust and World War II, the subject of sexual assault and #Metoo is a subject that does not come up very often. But I think it is a topic that we should be discussing, especially given our current political and cultural climate.

From a very young age, women are socialized to the idea that their main asset (if not their only asset) is their beauty. But we are also penalized when we use our looks to get by. From the instant we meet her, Cilka is a character that I admired and I wanted to hug. Many would have not lasted as long as she did in the same set of circumstances. But Cilka did and for that alone, she deserves as much recognition as she can get.

I recommend it.

Late Law & Order: SVU Character Review: Brian Cassidy

*I apologize for the delay, life, as it sometimes does, got in the way.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Finding one’s path in life is not easy. It requires one to take chances, not knowing if your going in the right direction or you have taken a mis-step. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Brian Cassidy (Dean Winters) is just trying to find his way. Like many who are trying to find their way, he makes a few mistakes.

Cassidy is one of the younger members of the SVU squad. Though he is dedicated to his job, he has a long way to go before he is the ideal SVU detective. The gravity of the cases he works on often stretches him emotionally, sometimes forcing him to react inappropriately. It takes his older and experienced partner, John Munch (Richard Belzer), to calm him down and teach him to become a better detective.

If the pressure of work was not enough, Cassidy’s long time crush and one night stand with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) does not end well. This leads to an explosion in which he realizes that working as an SVU detective is not the right path for him and asks for a transfer.

But this is not the end of Cassidy’s time with SVU. He comes back 12 years after the transfer and nearly sends his former boss, Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) to prison for prostitution. He also starts dating Olivia secretly and it seems like everything is settling down. But then an accusation by another prostitute forces Cassidy to take stock of his life and reveal his secret relationship with Olivia.

The next time we see Cassidy, he and Olivia realize that they are different people and they break up. Later, Cassidy accuses Olivia abusing her adopted son, Noah. When it is revealed why he made the accusation, Olivia says that she never wants to see him again.

The last time we see Cassidy, he is in court, facing the man who abused him as a child.

To sum it up: Life is never a straight path. It is a series of curves with potholes, brick walls and challenges, forcing us to adapt and change. Like all of us, Brian Cassidy has to adapt. Though it is not easy, he does and finds the strength that he didn’t know he had.

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