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Publisher's Summary

A stunning debut novel in the vein of Sarah Waters' historical fiction and inspired by true events, it 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.
In 1919, Rachel Rabinowitz is a vivacious four-year-old living with her family in a crowded tenement on New York City's Lower East Side. 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 15, 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 reveals 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 Number 8 is a powerful, affecting novel of the unexpected choices we are compelled to make that can shape our destinies.
©2015 Kim van Alkemade (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By MissSusie66 on 08-18-15

Characters not fleshed out enough

I didn’t feel like either the current or past storyline was fleshed out enough, at times it felt disjointed and I think it was because of not knowing enough about the characters. However I did find the story fascinating I never knew anything about these test done at orphanages’ also after reading some stories on the authors website I really wish she would have went deeper into these characters I feel like she just brushed the surface and I wish I knew more.

I hated the “romance” aspect of this book every time she grabbed someone’s face and pulled them into a kiss I was no longer in the story and Rachel’s sexual orientation had absolutely nothing to do with it , if she had been grabbing men’s faces I would have felt exactly the same. To me there was no reason for these it added nothing to the story and in fact detracted from it.


I can’t put my finger on what it is I don’t like about the narration, I’m not sure if it’s the tone, cadence or accent that I don’t like but there were times when the narration really annoyed me and other times I didn’t mind it. I am not sure who narrated what either so it may be that I like one narrator over the other but I am just not sure.

This book was okay; I liked the storyline about the Orphans Home even though I wish I knew more. I guess in the end this book just fell flat for me.

2 ½ Stars

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful


By Kristen E Carlson on 01-31-17

Good Story, Needs Fact Checking

Beginning is rather slow, but the story picks up nicely, knowing that the conflict will arrive eventually. I enjoyed the main premise, but as a Colorado native who knows just about everything there is to know about its history, there are some glaring errors in the research. Baby Doe Tabor is referred to as "Baby Jane", the trolley cars along Colfax were not called "streetcars". These were small details, but can be jarring and pull the reader out of the story. I also felt like the main character did some pretty crappy things (lying and stealing from them) and that most people were willing to wave it off and forgive her without a second thought. That said, it was enjoyable, overall.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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