Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Little Lit: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Anna is seven years old and has lived in a world of languages and friends when her professor father leaves her with a friend and never comes back. It's 1939 in Poland and Anna finds herself alone in an unfriendly world until a tall, thin man sees her. He calls down birds to cheer her up and then warns her not to be seen. Anna follows him out of Krakow and through the Polish countryside. As they wander together, avoiding the dangerous Bears and Wolves that would hunt them down, Anna has to learn the best ways to survive in a hostile world.

What I Liked:
  • I liked the view of this time period from a very different perspective.
  • I loved the poetry of the language.
  • I liked the concept of someone being able to change languages by the day and the way that makes someone think about language and what people are saying or not saying through words.
What I Would Have Liked:
  • An explanation - I fully expected there to be some author's note at the end to clarify some of the very vague references that are made (especially near the end). I feel like I missed something even though I'm pretty sure I didn't. It started to feel like it was based on a true story of someone, but without an explanation, these very specific (yet vague) details left me confused and a little frustrated.
  • A better sense of time - Part of this is just the way the book is, but I would have liked a better sense of how much time had passed. Because I felt it was important to know Anna's age to better grasp her reactions to some of the events.
  • There was one scene near the end of the book that just felt gratuitously unnecessary. It didn't really add to the book or to the story. I understand bad things happen, but this particular scene (I don't want to be more specific because spoilers) didn't seem to serve a real purpose.
  • Overall I thought this was a beautifully written book. The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but the use of language made me glad that I read it.
  • Anyone interested in history, World War II, stories of growing up, or poetically written prose will enjoy this book.
I received this book as an advance reader copy at BookExpo America.

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