One School, One Book: Maus Review

Anna Simek, staff writer

     Our summer reading book, Maus, is a graphic novel that tells about some of Vladek Spiegelman’s experiences through the Holocaust. The most interesting feature of the book is that it casts mice as Jews, cats as Nazis and pigs as Poles.  Europe is depicted as one giant mousetrap. The novel is set up like a comic book which makes it quick and easy to read. Unfortunately, this setup takes away from the reality of the Holocaust.

     In the beginning of the story, the reader meets Artie, the author; and his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor.  The reader is basically following two stories: Artie questioning his father about the Holocaust and Vladek’s experience living through the Holocaust. We also meet Mala, Vladek’s second wife, who is a survivor of the Holocaust. Her relationship with Vladek is strained because he doesn’t give her what she wants.

     Although Maus is generally about the Holocaust, it contains the story of a strained father/son relationship and the struggles Vladek and Artie encounter.  Many pages where the two are featured together discussing the Holocaust, they are usually arguing, which seems to be how they spend much of their time together.

     I found this story to be decently written. It didn’t jump from date to date, Speigelman made it as chronological as possible. The pictures are drawn well and help to explain some of what happened during the Holocaust. Although, I felt that the cartoons took away from the history, making the Holocaust seem unreal. Maus doesn’t describe too much of the Holocaust, but there is some description of what Vladek went through to escape death.

     Personally, I thought Maus was an okay book. I felt that the pictures gave a somewhat better description of living environments and hiding places than I had previously acquired, but made the book a little more fake.