First sentence: When Anna Lania woke on the morning of the sixth of November in the year 1939--her seventh--there were several things that she did not know...
Premise/plot: The day after Anna's father disappears forever, she follows a stranger into the forest because of a brief connection they shared outside a shop. She wants to know his name, after all he now knows hers. But he thinks names are dangerous things, he allows her to call him Swallow Man. (She wanted to call him Solomon because he is WISE.) This one is set in Poland during World War II. These two wander around together for the duration of the war--or most of it. Both speak multiple languages well. But the language they speak most often is Road. It is impossible to lie when speaking Road he tells the innocent girl. Their stories change always from one encounter to the next. He is her whole world, her everything. But as she grows up, she begins to see that he has flaws. A time even comes when she has to make life or death decisions for them both.
Will Anna survive the war?
My thoughts: In this YA book, readers really only get to know three characters: Anna, the Swallow Man, and Reb Hirschl. I hated what happened to Reb. It was all so pointless in my opinion. Overall, I found the first half to be delightfully written, just beautiful sentences woven together to tell a unique story. The second half, however, was not a good fit for me. I became less enchanted of the Swallow Man, and more concerned for Anna. It made sense that facts were hazy impressions when she was seven. Not so much when she became older.
At first I thought this one would be a good match for Book Thief fans, but by the end it just didn't hold up. Definitely more for adults who love literary fiction and non-endings.
Disappointment, though heavy, is an easy enough thing to pack away in a suitcase--it has straight edges and rounded corners, and it always fits into the last remaining empty space. Hope is much the same. But somehow the hybrid of the two is something much less uniform--awkward, bulkier, and no less heavy. It is far too delicate to pack away. It must be carried in the hands. (224)© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews