In his debut novel, Gavriel Savit produces a daunting fairytale story for young adult readers that is both touching and emotional. Anna and her father are living in Krakow, Poland in 1939 and are trying to survive during the war. Anna is a young child of seven who is very curious about life and is very bright. Her father is a professor of languages. One day he is summoned, with all of the other professors, to a meeting before German authority. He leaves Anna with a German friend for the day, but he never returns. The German friend, fearing for his own life, sends Anna crying out into the streets alone. A tall, thin stranger notices her distress and appears to call down a Swallow from the sky, which lands near Anna to comfort her. Anna is intrigued with this stranger, who can speak in different languages like her father, and she decides to follow him down the street and they both quickly learn that they can survive the German soldiers and their inspections better together. Living on the edge of survival, The Swallow Man teaches Anna survival skills as they follow behind enemy lines and scavenge from the dead.
Anna and the Swallow Man is a debut novel for author Gavriel Savit and the hardback book has a captivating cover. Anna, is a strong young girl who grows up quickly in this unbalanced world of war. An educated, secret, and mysterious creature, The Swallow Man remains a mystery throughout the story. Is he a hero or a dangerous figure in Anna’s life? It could be difficult to love this daunting tale steeped in the unlovely subject of WWII and this story is very much aimed at the older young adult audience due to the topic matter. The story bordered on realism but at times carried elements of fairytales. Readers will likely enjoy some of the more whimsical passages. This story is worth reading for this enjoyable yet somewhat strange tale.
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