Orphan #8: A Novel by Kim Van AlkemadeOrphan #8: A Novel by Kim Van Alkemade

Orphan #8: A Novel

byKim Van Alkemade

Paperback | August 4, 2015

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New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

In this stunning new historical novel inspired by true events, Kim van Alkemade tells the fascinating story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.

In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City’s Lower Eastside. When tragedy strikes, Rachel is separated from her brother Sam and sent to a Jewish orphanage where Dr. Mildred Solomon is conducting medical research. Subjected to X-ray treatments that leave her disfigured, Rachel suffers years of cruel harassment from the other orphans. But when she turns fifteen, she runs away to Colorado hoping to find the brother she lost and discovers a family she never knew she had.

Though Rachel believes she’s shut out her painful childhood memories, years later she is confronted with her dark past when she becomes a nurse at Manhattan’s Old Hebrews Home and her patient is none other than the elderly, cancer-stricken Dr. Solomon. Rachel becomes obsessed with making Dr. Solomon acknowledge, and pay for, her wrongdoing. But each passing hour Rachel spends with the old doctor reveal to Rachel the complexities of her own nature. She realizes that a person’s fate—to be one who inflicts harm or one who heals—is not always set in stone.

Lush in historical detail, rich in atmosphere and based on true events, Orphan #8 is a powerful, affecting novel of the unexpected choices we are compelled to make that can shape our destinies.

Kim van Alkemade was born in New York. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in literary journals includingAlaska Quarterly Review,So to Speak, andCutBank. She teaches writing at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
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Title:Orphan #8: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.94 inPublished:August 4, 2015Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062338307

ISBN - 13:9780062338303

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Customer Reviews of Orphan #8: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from BUY THIS BOOK NOW! What a different and fantastic read. Everything with this book was enticing. Be prepared to not be able to put it down
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read this book! There is no doubt that this book is difficult to read, especially knowing it's a historical fiction book. That being said, some books are difficult to read but that doesn't mean we shouldn't read them. I loved this book. I love reading a book that can make me feel something so deep that I feel I am right there with the characters. That's what this book did for me.
Date published: 2017-08-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as captivating as hoped It was a good 'story' and almost difficult to believe that this sort of thing actually happened. I didn't however get as 'caught up' in the book as i had hoped.
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shedding Tears! What a truly amazing story! Once I started reading this book I couldn't put it down! Every time some one is looking for suggestions for books to read, this is the first book I recommend! She over came so many obstacles to get to where she is now, and I could not imagine being in her shoes at any point in time in her life. Simply put, you need to read this!!
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it Heart-breaking, beautiful and moving, incredibly well-written and you just don't want to put it down.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful book A great read and a great page turner. Definitely an asset to a personal library.
Date published: 2017-04-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a story! A great addition to your library.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good read!!! This was a good read. I learned a lot amd really appreciated the extra info at th end of the story
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read I really enjoyed this book with its parallel timelines between when Rachel was growing up in the orphanage and her time as a nurse later in life. I felt vindicated that her life worked out the way it did after all that she went through as a child, yet you ultimately wanted to forgive both parties involved. Would definitely recommend to those who like books involving history and medicine.
Date published: 2017-02-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful read. A friend picked this book for our book club. I loved it. It is a heartwarming and well written story - and I was moved by the historical events that were used for this story. A wonderful read, not only for its story, but for its insight into a part of history I would not have otherwise been exposed to.
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great addition to orphan stories. Looks at an issue no other orphan story i know has explored. Great book. I especially liked the information at the end of the story which separated fact from the fiction. Rachel and her brother are left as 'orphans' after their mother dies and their father disappears. They grow up in an orphanage. While in the infant orphanage Rachel is used for some medical experiments by a young intern. As an adolescent she runs away from the orphanage to find her brother. She also finds an uncle but runs away again when said uncle proposes marriage to her in order for her to remain with him. She has complicated things by stealing from her love interest and thus feels she cant return to the orphanage. How she resolves all her issues makes an interesting read. In her present life, as a nurse, Rachel meets the lady doctor who had done the experiments that left her hairless (lucky her- no shaving :P) and with a tumor that needs to be removed. Does she forgive this woman? Should she talk about the past and explain her feelings? Does she punish her? Should she just kill her? Rachel has some choices to make to resolve the issues inside her. Rachel is a lesbian and the book really portrays this aspect of her very well. I got an understanding of what it must have been like for lesbians before the LGBQ movement. Not that i think all problems of that nature have disappeared yet. I don't. It was an eye opener for me, not having thought much about how a gay person lives their daily life and how much they have to hide. Hopefully it will get better as the years go by.
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Echos the pain of the past Great book to keep us on track with crimes of the past. It is such a turmoil to believe life is one way and realizing that the past does not mirror that.
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreakingly beautiful. This is definitely not an easy book to read, but still one I would recommend. The writing is wonderful, the story heartbreakingly beautiful, and the characters have that wonderful quality that makes you want to learn even more about them after you've read the last page.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting concept, fell short in areas 3.5. I liked the coming of age story of Rachel and Sam growing up in the orphanage and her struggles to finally make it to nursing school along with Dr Abrams and his wife. I could have done with less chapters on her present adult life which seemed repetitive and would have liked more chapters on the lab experiments and details from those times linked to her current diagnosis. More orphanage stories less whiny-bitter-woman stories looking for revenge. But overall it kept me reading!
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Story I enjoyed this read. There were too many ideas that were thrown in at once.
Date published: 2016-11-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The premise was enticing... but then ran off course I think Kim van Alkemade started off with an enticing idea: good vs. evil plot line with the reversal of roles. However, a lot of other ideas and issues were woven into the story, straying the story from its original course.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Lofty goals with poor execution. Horribly predictable with too many unfinished ideas presented. Reading the back of the book is the most exciting part.
Date published: 2016-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and thought provoking I enjoyed this book. Interesting characters and story. I always want to know more about the characters and what happens to them, so I was disappointed with the ending. It does however give you a chance to form your own speculation of what could happen.
Date published: 2015-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shocking and True Do you enjoy though-provoking books that have such heart-wrenching plots, such shocking storylines, that it moves you for many days to come? This gripping novel, based on actual, true events, provokes a plethora of deep thoughts and emotions. They are brought to the New York City Hebrew Orphans Home that existed in the early 1900’s. Rachel soon finds herself subjected to alarming medical experiments that leave Rachel scarred for life. The author does not shy away from describing the horrendously cruel experiments that included force feeding, physical restraints, and over exposure to radium through x-rays that left them bald. But Rachel survives and years later, she becomes a nurse. One of her patients, dying of terminal cancer, is the female doctor who subjected her to the medical trials. Now in a position of power over her previous tormenter, Rachel becomes obsessed with revenge. The plot becomes rich with a bevy of emotion and thought-provoking twists regarding forgiveness, hate, love, trust, vengeance, and more. At the end of the book, the author has included photographs acquired in research. Tremendously stirring, this is one novel not to miss. So human, so real, so true! Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Date published: 2015-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Eye Opener Orphan Number Eight is actually Rachael Rabinowitz’s story from beginning to the last page. We follow her from the age of four until she is facing a life threatening force, and you will empathize and feel for her all the way through, no mater if she is doing right or wrong. Rachael is living with her family, her mother, father and brother in a tenement on New York’s lower east side. When tragedy strikes, this little girl’s world is turned up side down, and will never be the same. Rachael and Sam are sent to the Hebrew’s Orphanage Home, and her life takes a terrible turn. We are with Rachel as she suffers from one injustice to another, and want to help, but the fact that this story is fiction, but based on fact, does not make it any better. To think that a Doctor could get away with giving numbers to children rather than names, hence number eight. It is brought out in the story, but I couldn’t help thinking that this place wasn’t much better than Hitler’s Nazi’s. I couldn’t put this book down, once I turned the first page I had to read it to the end and it was less than a day, that I turned the final page. I wanted more, yes, but I wanted peace for Rachael. I recommend this read as an eye opener; life can be very tough, especially for vulnerable children. I received this book through Harper Collins Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.
Date published: 2015-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Eye Opener Orphan Number Eight is actually Rachael Rabinowitz’s story from beginning to the last page. We follow her from the age of four until she is facing a life threatening force, and you will empathize and feel for her all the way through, no mater if she is doing right or wrong. Rachael is living with her family, her mother, father and brother in a tenement on New York’s lower east side. When tragedy strikes, this little girl’s world is turned up side down, and will never be the same. Rachael and Sam are sent to the Hebrew’s Orphanage Home, and her life takes a terrible turn. We are with Rachel as she suffers from one injustice to another, and want to help, but the fact that this story is fiction, but based on fact, does not make it any better. To think that a Doctor could get away with giving numbers to children rather than names, hence number eight. It is brought out in the story, but I couldn’t help thinking that this place wasn’t much better than Hitler’s Nazi’s. I couldn’t put this book down, once I turned the first page I had to read it to the end and it was less than a day, that I turned the final page. I wanted more, yes, but I wanted peace for Rachael. I recommend this read as an eye opener; life can be very tough, especially for vulnerable children. I received this book through Harper Collins Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.
Date published: 2015-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Indigo Staff Pick Orphan #8 is a very interesting read. The moral complexity of this story offers many issues worth discussing. Rich in historical detail and emotional depth, Orphan #8 will be a popular book club choice for sure. We follow Rachel Rabinowitz from 1919 when she is taken to the Hebrew Infants Home, into 1954 when Nurse Rachel receives a new patient: Doctor Mildred Solomon. The arrival of Doctor Solomon brings back a flood of memories for Rachel, as she remembers being Orphan #8 in damaging medical experiments conducted by the doctor. Faced with painful memories Rachel must decide how she will treat Doctor Solomon. Will she choose revenge or forgiveness; will she choose anger or kindness? Orphan #8 is Rachel's story.
Date published: 2015-07-07

Editorial Reviews

“…van Alkemade succeeds in bringing to light a fascinating and little-known chapter of history...she vividly chronicles her heroine’s pain, resilience and capacity to be honest with those who loved her, with those who betrayed her, and ultimately with herself.”