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This is a reserved, soft-spoken war book, a tale of survival in the midst of horror that chooses its words as carefully and elegantly as the meticulous Swallow Man of the title, communicating much of its story with silence and allusions. It is a story of abandonment and isolation and one of tentative connection. It is quietly, deeply moving.
People are dangerous. People are necessary.
When seven-year-old Anna's father disappears from their German-occupied Polish home near the start of World War II, she is alone. When she and an odd stranger recognize something kindred in each other, he reluctantly agrees to take her in. Or, more precisely, to take her out. His survival strategy is constant movement through the wilderness, nameless and forgettable. He teaches Anna his ways, and for four years they wander the countryside with as limited human contact as possible. Danger is everywhere, though, and ultimately unavoidable, and neither escapes the experience unscathed.
The author's alluring writing style drew me into this haunting and at times bizarre story but when I was finished, I wasn't quite clear on what I had just read. Was it a fairy tale? Historical fiction? Or a bit of both with magical realism added? In any case, suspension of disbelief would be the proper mindset with which to read and enjoy this debut novel.
Mature themes would make this book suited to young/older adults.
A memorable read, that had me afraid to pick up the book in the last chapters. There was a genuine sense of dread but I still wanted to finish the story...
What a sad story. Anna’s young life is turned upside down, when her father is taken away by German soldiers. As a 7-year-old she doesn’t know what to do. No one claims her. When a man speaks to her, she sees him as the adult she needs and follows him. Reluctantly he takes her along as they roam Poland during World War II. The reader never learns the Swallow Man’s name, only that he loves birds. Anna ages as the war progresses. The story gets darker and after the death of a Jewish rabbi they befriend and a doctor makes Anna strip in order to get medicine, the loss of innocence in war is made clear. This story is one that would make a good book club choice. There’s a lot of meaning that could be pulled from the literal text.
I am always surprised at how much I enjoy Young Adult books. They offer a lot, make you think, and offer insight into history from a very impressionable age.
As far as I am concerned, we can never get enough about a time in our history in which the world was turned upside down by war. Germany's elimination of certain segments of society, especially towards the Jews, and what it did to family, communities, etc., is something which we need to be continually reminded of, so we do not repeat it again, which unfortunately, continues to happen, in many varied ways.
This is a well told story of a young girl who father is taken into custody never to be hear from again. A young girl who now finds herself, terribly alone and alienated, because she is a Jew. She mets and befriends a total stranger who come together under stressful circumstances and the journey of survival that ensues throughout the rest of the story. In so many ways, she is so innocent and naive, and yet exposed to the worst mankind has to offer. Then there is a stranger, by happen stance, brings them together, who sole purpose is survival.
The story is told from her perspective; her feelings, and understanding, in which innocence is lost, trust is out the window, and so many other experiences we take for granted. The man whom she reluctantly and many times unquestionably places her trust in, and at other times is in conflict with. but together, their struggle just to survive day by day is starkly revealed.
I was not pleased with the ending, because I believe, Anna has matured throughout the story and that maturity changes the perspective in which their former roles had been established as well as her awakening in adulthood. The author used this change and her development at the end, which I found awkward. In addition, you are left with the main characters roles altered, but not finished.
This was an insightful and engaging read which I enjoyed a lot. It was the ending and its awkwardness for me that lowered my rating from four (4) stars to three (3).
I spent most of this book trying to figure out its intended audience. Marketed for teens with a child protagonist and dense, often heavy-handed prose, it fell a little flat for me. While the writing is beautiful at times and I definitely think it will appeal to many adult readers, I don't see it gaining much traction with a teen audience.
A lovely little book full of quiet power. Great teen/adult crossover book that had me thinking days after. Subject matter reminded me slightly of "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak.
This book was so touching! It kept creeping back into my mind for days, even weeks after I read it. It was definitely very deep and philosophical, so not a light read, despite the length. It was a little disappointing that so many things were left unexplained. At the same time, it felt like the author wanted the reader to make their own assumptions, and interpret it in their own way.
What a great book! Historic fiction, Nazis, war, spies, wandering through the wilderness, mystery and more. My favorite book so far this year. Easy to read but with the tone of a classic.
I enjoyed the balance that the author was able to achieve between the savagery of war and the magic of childhood. As dire as the circumstances were for the young girl, her childlike trust in her guardian, his stories and the power of words remained strong. Recommended.
An exquisitely written book, Anna and the Swallow Man is the story of an orphaned girl coming of age in Nazi-era Poland with an unlikely companion. Fans of Markus Zusak's The Book Thief should snatch this one up.
When seven-year old Anna is left alone in Kraków during the Nazi occupation, she meets a tall, inscrutable man who is able to whistle birds down from the sky.
A very beautiful book. The simple writing makes it a great YA book, and yet it's sophisticated enough to appeal to adult readers, as well. Highly recommended, especially for fans of The Book Thief.