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Book Review: “Open Heart” by Elie Wiesel

Open Heart, Elie Wiesel’s account of his 2011 bypass surgery, should be the next book you read. While it is light in physical weight (fewer than 100 pages), this work packs a massive emotional punch. Wiesel, who wrote Night, about his time in the hell of Nazi concentration camps, again reflects on facing the abyss-this time in a hospital bed in New York. Open Heart is a tale of despair, of the thoughts of a man who may not live to see another day.

Reflecting on his life as an unfinished work, Wiesel’s tone is deeply pessimistic. He questions the value of his life’s work and wonders if he has done enough to fight hatred yet ponders if he has done too much; that is,  if Night was too graphic. Wiesel even suggests the world has learned nothing from Holocaust because genocide continues. Wiesel has experienced unimaginable misery, and in his hospital bed recovering for his traumatic operation, it all seems to catch up to him.

Although Open Heart initially seems to refer to nothing more than the surgery he endured, Wiesel turns the tables: “Such is the miracle,” he writes, “A tale about despair becomes a tale against despair.”

In a show of incredible perseverance, Wiesel reaffirms his faith in both God and humankind. One finishes this book inspired and in awe of the 82-year-old Wiesel. The power to forgive, even without forgetting, and remain a believer in good should be a lesson to us all.

Written by Harry Wexner’13


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