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The Upright Heart


The Upright Heart ~ Julia Ain-Krupa

Yet another holocaust novel. Sometimes, I simply choose to read a book just by picking up on that one word in its blurb – Holocaust or World War II. This goes on, despite the fact that there are indeed very few of them that I truly like.

The Upright Heart, if nothing else is definitely a fresh perspective on a subject that fascinates many like me. It is essentially a ghost story. The war is over now, and while Poland tries to pick up the pieces, the souls lost in the war still linger, unable to move on. The opening chapter for instance, hooked me, even though I’ve never been a big fan of a ghost as narrator. It starts with the voice of a child like character called Sarah, who we soon discover is a soul departed. She seems to be occupying her old school, where she and her Jewish classmates were all locked in together and the premises was burnt down. Now they all call each other Sarah, as though their given names don’t matter anymore. They are the same, lingering souls.

That was good. I was intrigued, I wanted to know more, but this book left me feeling dissatisfied. There are multiple stories being told simultaneously, all of them connected to ghosts in some way. There are German soldiers trying to get home, out of an ever winding trench. A young orphan boy, a woman who couldn’t save her Jewish friend, and a Polish Christian who gave up her life protecting the family of her Jewish lover.

For me, each story I believe deserved its own book or at least more space in this one. The narratives and the characters seemed to overcrowd this slight book and I failed to truly connect with any particular one.

I wanted to feel anger, hope, outrage, shock; all the emotions I believe one wants to feel when they pick up a book such as this. I was left feeling like the holocaust was used as a backdrop, and not integrated enough into any of the stories.

Why you should read it:

  • If you liked ‘The Book Thief’ and are yearning for another dream-like ghostly narrative
  • If you’re a holocaust fiction junkie

Why you shouldn’t read it:

  • If you’re looking for a light read (plot-wise)


I was provided with a galley by the publishers in exchange for an honest review