I am a sucker for historical fictions in the WW2 setting so  I had to read The Red Ribbon even though I knew it would be an emotional journey.

Title: The Red Ribbon
Author : Lucy Adlington
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age of Protagonist : YA
Rating:  5/5


Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood. 

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz. 

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival. 

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive. 

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration with her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?


Swap our clothes, and then what would we be?

The Red Ribbon was a lot more hard hitting than I was expecting, the story of Ella will stay with me for a long time. 

Although set in Auschwitz,  locations are rarely mentioned, this gives the book  an almost fairytale feel that makes it more relatable to today’s readers.

The Red Ribbon is set in a horrible place in a horrible time but the hope and friendship of Ella and Rose shines through. No matter how bleak the situation Rose will be telling tales of far away lands and Ella will be dreaming up dresses. 

All the characters in the Red Ribbon faced difficult decisions everyday to survive Birchwood. Their choices affect other people and can change them as a person. What if they stole fabric? What if they ratted out another ‘stripey’? It is hard to see what the girls must do to last in Birchwood.

The Red Ribbon is an eye opener on how important clothes can be to an identity. The ‘stripeys’ clothes are removed and everyone must wear the same outfit and lose a bit of themselves. All that separates ‘them’ and the guards are what clothes they wear. The department store was devastating to read about, all the peoples clothes being turned into dresses and outfits for the guards.   

I would recommend the Red Ribbon to anyone who loves historical fiction but make sure you have some tissues handy!

*ARC received from Candlewick Press via Netgalley*L

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