Book review: The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Historical fictions are one of my favourite types of books, especially those based during wartime. I really enjoyed reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Librarian of Auschwitz, The Twins of Auschwitz, and Cilka's Journey that when I heard about The Red  Ribbon novel, I had to give it a read.

If you love historical fiction and looking for a heartbreaking yet insightful YA read, then The Red Ribbon is for you.

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The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

Plotline

The Red Ribbon follows the story of Ella, a fourteen-year-old girl sent to Auschwitz or 'Birchwood' as she calls it. Ella has a passion for dressmaking and loves nothing more than creating her own clothes. When she is sent into the deep end of working in the camp, surrounded by silk, buttons, lace, and ribbons, Ella becomes a dressmaker. However, the dressmaker she dreams of being isn't what is played out in this workshop with no ordinary sewing, and no ordinary clients.

Her dress-making skills are the difference between life and death and Ella soon realises what she has to do to survive. The story is about Ella but also the girls around her: Rose, Marta, and Carla, and how they intertwine into her story of surviving the camp.

Characters and relationships

Reading about Auschwitz is the most horrendous thing even when the book is only loosely based on the actual events that happened, however, it's the characters that really added to the pure emotion and the human element. Ella is only fourteen and the combination of both her innocence and maturity come across in the story with everything she has to entail. I loved the character of Ella, as she is just a typical teen, wanting and dreaming about her future. She is strong, stronger than I could ever imagine being in a situation like that.

My favourite relationship in the book has to be between her and Rose. The pair are completely different: Rose is a dreamer and storyteller whilst Ella is a lot more of a realist, but their differences bring them together and they form the most beautiful bond. It really shows that a true friendship can get you through the hardest times in life, and help you survive. I also loved reading about the bond Ella has with her friends in the sewing room and bunk, and what that friendship means as time goes on.

There were some characters I didn't really like initially, but also a couple that turned against Ella which made my blood boil and also made the book realistic as, the sad thing was, everyone had to look out for themselves in order to survive. I like how the author shared a mixed bag of characters and how their journeys intertwined with each other to end up at Birchwood and also where they end up at the end.

Overall thoughts

Overall, this book is heartbreaking, emotional, insightful and an inspiring read. It's the perfect YA novel to teach younger readers about Auschwitz through a teen's eyes. I couldn't put this book down as I was inspired by each page, reading about Ella's strength and determination to survive the camp and fulfill her dreams of opening a dress shop. Her innocent hopes and ambitions really were everything and brought the whole book together. The symbolism of the title of the book also got me very emotional as that was played out throughout the tale.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone for many different reasons. It's written so carefully and on point and has an intense amount of emotion about it that I cried way too many times. However, it's also a book of education and insight, to help teach us about the horrors that went on put painted in a lighter tone. The Red Ribbon is gripping, moving and a novel I think everyone should have the chance to read. It's paced out in the right kind of timeframe and I really liked how the chapters were named after a colour, and the characters after animals (before Ella knew their names) to emphasise the innocence of the experience in Ella's eyes.

Ending

The ending had me crying for all sorts of reasons but mainly as I didn't think the book would end that way, but I'm glad it did. I won't give the ending away of course but I will say, it had an uplifting, hopeful and happy tone to it - the same hope Ella held onto throughout her whole experience in Birchwood.

If you love the sound of this book, you can pick up The Red Ribbon here.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Have you read this book?

Thank you for reading <3

80 comments

  1. This is actually my kind of book, I love historical fiction. I’ve read “The tattooist of Auschwitz” and I totally get the mixed feelings you feel about Red Ribbon. Thanks for reviewing this book, will look out for it.

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  2. This sounds like a touching but harrowing read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Della :) x

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  3. This sounds like an amazing book/read. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts lovely Xo

    Elle - ellegracedeveson.com

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  4. Your book reviews are some of my favourites. This sounds like a great read. I read the Tattoosit of Auschwitz last year and it was harrowing. I bet this is similar!
    Rosie

    https://www.loverosiee.co.uk

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  5. Hello Della, this sounds like a great read, I love your review. I don't always read historical fiction but I might give this a go. Thanks for sharing! Alicia

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  6. Loved this review. Ella sounds like a hardworking young girl, such a heartbreaking storyline though. I’m such a sensitive person so I would cry throughout the whole book just like you !

    Thank you for sharing !

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    1. Thank you! Honestly, I cried way too much haha xx

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  7. I love historical fiction and this is such an important topic - Flora is beginning to ask questions about events in history so this sounds like it might be the perfect introduction for her in a year or so's time x

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    1. Thank you!! Yeah I reckon it would be a great starting point for your daughter x

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  8. This book sounds amazing. I love reading about the second world war stories. I will have to add this book to my list. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. I have heard of this book before, I have been told I need to give it a read so I will definitely look into it.

    https://theunpredictedpage.com

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  10. I've never heard of this book but it's definitely one I'm going to add to my list as it sounds like a book I'd enjoy.

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  11. I love historical fiction and always find a new book to add to my list after reading your reviews Della! I think that what sounds very interesting is the different characters and how they relate to each other, hope to read it soon x

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  12. Love this review! I love historical fiction so I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list!

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  13. Great review - this sounds like such a touching read! I hadn't heard of this one before but I love historical fiction around this era so will have to check it out. I love that there are great friendships and mixed characters. Thanks for sharing x

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  14. How rich and beautiful and deep this book sounds! I love that it is a survival story from a younger point of view, and a point of view grown into maturity through necessity. Hints of heartbreak and betrayal attract me too!
    A lovely review; thanks for sharing. xoxo

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  15. This sounds like a great book! I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing your review!

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  16. Ruth| Ruthiee loves Glamour6 September 2021 at 14:33

    I haven't heard of this book before but it sounds like a good one. I would love to read a historical fiction book! I'll check this out. Thank you for sharing

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  17. This sounds heart breaking, but beautiful. I love historical fiction, it's such a wonderful tool to make historical events feel more personal and real x

    mia // https://beautiful-inspiring-creative-life.com/

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  18. This book sounds so good but I'm not sure I could read it, I always get so upset when I watch things to do with what happened to all those poor people!

    Corinne x

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    1. I don't blame you, it is so hard to read or watch x

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  19. This sounds like such a wonderful book! Thanks for the recommendation!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  20. This sounds like a great read and I love that it's YA as well, so probably an easier read than other books set in this time but equally as important x

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  21. This definitely sounds like a book I would read because, not only do I love a good cry, I'm also very inspired by the idea of hope. Your post really captured me.

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  22. I can see how this book would be heartbreaking and an emotional read. I mostly stick to lighthearted romantic books so I'm not sure how I'd hold up reading this and sobbing away! However, I do think it would be a great fit for my sister, so thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. That's fair enough, I hope you sister likes it!

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  23. This book sounds really good and it's nice to see YA handle these difficult topics.

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  24. I haven’t heard this one before. It is interesting to see more books handle difficult topics. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Lauren - bournemouthgirl

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  25. I really liked your review but I recently read another book about the same time period and I am still trying to recover myself. I will probably read it sometime but I don't think it will be in the near future. Thank you for sharing!

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  26. I really enjoy historical fiction books, so I'll be adding this one to my TBR. I've previously read The Tattooist of Auschwitz and although they're really emotive, these books are so important to read.

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  27. This books sounds amazing. I remember when I was young and I would read historical fiction books I loved them. I will totally have to check out this book

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  28. Your review was so touching to read, Della! I loved that you enjoyed this book. Sounds like a beautiful read. Thanks for sharing x

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

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  29. This sounds like an emotional yet inspiring read. I'm glad the author did a wonderful job at making you feel a connection with the characters. Thanks for sharing.

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  30. This sounds like a book I would enjoy, historical fiction is always interesting to me. Gonna have to check it out. Great review! xx
    TheQuietGirl | www.quietgirlblog.com

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  31. This book sounds amazing ...thanks for sharing dear :-)
    Beauty and Fashion/Rampdiary/Glamansion

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  32. Such a good review, Della! It definitely sounds like a book I would enjoy reading so I'll definitely go and check it out!

    Samantha | https://samanthajblogs.co.uk

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  33. As someone who loves historical fiction too I feel like I need to read this book after reading your review. I completely agree people should read books about the concentration camps so that we can all understand what went on and prevent such a thing happening again.

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  34. I haven't heard of this book yet, but it sounds like an interesting read! I have been in the mood for some historical fiction lately.

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  35. This sounds like such a beautiful, yet emotional book. I’m glad that you enjoyed it and shared your wonderful review.

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  36. Great reviewed! I was first wondering between aushwitz connection with this then I got it. And this book is mix of real life and dreams. A great plot. Xx
    Isa A. Blogger
    https://www.lifestyleprism.com/

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  37. This sounds like such an emotional but great book! I am glad you enjoyed it I will be adding this to my TBR pile.

    Sarah | www.aspoonfulofvanilla.co.uk

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  38. Sounds like a wonderful read that would evoke a lot of emotion for the reader! I'm interested by the two story tellers and their differences - sounds quite interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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  39. This sounds like a wonderful read, even if the ending had you crying (happy) tears! x

    Lucy | www.lucymary.co.uk

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  40. I've read so many different Holocaust books and they always make me cry. I've never heard of this one before but it looks good!

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