Even the title Anna and the Swallow Man has a folklore-esque feel to it, and that’s just scratching the surface of what this new young adult novel offers.
Categorized as historical fiction, folklore, and magical realism, Gavriel Savit’s debut novel is a genre of its own. Set in Kraków, Poland in 1939 at the genesis of WWII, the book follows Anna, a seven year old who loses her father to the Germans. She would be alone and helpless if it weren’t for a new friend: the swallow man, an almost magical but concrete friend that gets her through the war.
War stories always have a certain power to them; it’s no wonder that books like All the Light We Cannot See, The Book Thief, Between Shades of Gray, Unbroken, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas have done so well. Viewing the atrocities of war through a child’s eyes, however, offers a completely new dynamic. Is the narrator reliable? Is everyone as they seem–and, most importantly, are the right people being trusted?
Anna and the Swallow Man is an easy read as far as reading level goes, but the content and presentation of the world’s truths will have you rethinking everything you know days after you’ve finished. Give it a go.
Thanks for reading! –Autumn
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