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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Let me start this review by saying that I rarely read MG, much less those set in times that are part of our world's history. But Gavriel Savit's Anna and the Swallow Man is one memorable read.

Title: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Published by: Knopf
Source: Publisher

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

It was obvious right from the start that Gavriel Savit has a way with words. It was, simply put, stunning. It's what made me want to dive into the story more, what pulled me in ultimately, even when I'm uncertain what kind of of story the author will present, even when I thought quite a few times that I'd stop reading and abandon the story. World War II wasn't the best time or setting, as is with every war, but as I continue to read, urged on by the beautiful prose, I found myself immersed in the story more.

Anna is a very interesting child, having a father who knows many languages that she didn't even know what their native tongue really was. There is a certain naivety and innocence in her, especially with the way she sees the war, not knowing a lot and unsure of many, many things and how life just works. But through their journey, Anna grows.

The Swallow Man, on the other hand, is a man shrouded in mystery, someone who knows how to speak the many languages Anna does and it is what made Anna attached to him, he is just like her father. It's through him that Anna learned the language called "Road": something to keep them safe and protected, with his clever ways and his ability to adapt in order to survive. The way he thinks is impressive, becoming Anna's protector, guiding her through an uncertain journey and it's what made me like him.

What people might find confusing is that the story was seen through a seven year old's eyes, but interpreted in a way that makes one think that it's for adults. It made the whole mood of the story seem different, and it worked for me. With very little dialogue, but often peppered with paragraphs and sentences that perfectly describes what was happening, it was obvious in the way the story was set up that this can work not just for YA readers, but for other types of readers as well. There's no doubt that Gavriel Savit has a way with words, and combine that with magical realism along with elements of survival, family, loss and hope set in such a trying time, Anna and the Swallow Man sure makes for a different kind of reading experience.

It's the type of book I do not often read but I am glad I gave this a try. Gavriel Savit's writing was a delight to read, almost lyrical, symbolic, with thought provoking lessons rooted deep within the story.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
A star off is because it takes a while to get the story moving. Like I mentioned, at the start there are times where I thought of giving up but Gavriel Savit's writing kept me holding on. Some parts tend to be confusing, so if needed, take a while to digest them. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to interpret the ending, and there might be some who will not like that.

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Have you seen what the book looks like? Love it!


  1. Yay! A new post! :)

    I didn't join this one. Was too afraid of historical fictions lately. But glad you enjoyed!

    1. Thanks for the comment, my friend! <3

      Awww. It was kind of slow at first but the writing is so good.


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