Kim van Alkemade was born in New York City and spent her childhood in suburban New Jersey. Kim’s parents met in the iconic Empire State Building. Her late father was an immigrant from the Netherlands who survived the 1941 bombardment of Rotterdam. Her American-born mother is a descendant of Eastern European Jewish immigrants who got their start in the garment industry and lived in a tenement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Kim attended college in Wisconsin, studying English and History at UW-Parkside and earning a doctorate in English from UW-Milwaukee. For many years, she was a professor at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania where she taught writing. Her creative nonfiction essays have been published in the literary journals Alaska Quarterly Review, So To Speak, and CutBank. Her debut novel, Orphan #8, about a woman who confronts the doctor who conducted medical experiments on her at a Jewish orphanage in the 1920s, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into eleven languages. Her second novel, Bachelor Girl, about a Jazz Age actress in New York City who receives a surprise inheritance from the millionaire owner of the Yankees baseball team, was published in 2018. Her third historical novel, Counting Lost Stars, about an unwed college student who has given up her baby for adoption helping a Holocaust survivor search for his lost mother, was inspired in part by her father’s experiences in Nazi occupied Holland. Kim makes her home in Saratoga Springs, New York, with her partner, their two rescue dogs, and three feisty backyard chickens.
A stunning debut novel in the vein of Sarah Waters’ historical fiction and inspired by true events, Orphan #8 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 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 Xray 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 she 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 and rich in atmosphere, Orphan #8 is a powerful, affecting novel of the unexpected choices we are compelled to make that can shape our destinies.
Press kit including excerpt available at Simon & Schuster
Public reading from Bachelor Girl at Susquehanna University