Title: Anna and the Swallow Man
Author: Gavriel Savit
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: January 26th 2016
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.
Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)
My Sociology professor once told us that language colors the way we see the world, we use varied words to describe how everything looks and feels. Gavriel Savit used his words beautifully and created a curious and wondrous world through Anna's eyes. It's been a while since I last read a great Middle Grade, especially one that managed to capture my interest for an impressive amount of time. I was actually reading Anna and the Swallow during my finals because I could not stop until I unearthed all of its secrets, and highlighted every gorgeous passage there was (trust me, there were a lot of great lines).
Seeing through Anna's eyes, sifting through her memories and going through her experiences was a very interesting journey. Especially when she would recall things her father did and how the people he brought into Anna's life affected her. Even though Anna is supposed to be a child, her mind has very beautiful and with clear trains of thought. It was a unique experience for me and it allowed me to grow from witnessing Anna's different events in life.
While the book was lovely, I will admit that there were moments when it got a bit too slow for me; but I am not too surprised because there's a lot of discussion and depth. Anna and the Swallow Man's relationship was fascinating to me, there was a distinct bond between the two but also, no promises of being together forever. They were shrouded in mystery (and a bit of luck) and everything seemed to fall where they belonged. However, there were moments in the book (mostly in the latter part) that constantly nagged me as to what significance of the Swallow Man played in Anna's life, there were a bit of questions that were left unanswered, in my opinion.
All in all, Anna and the Swallow Man is a wonderful novel that will give you all kinds of emotions and different perspectives in life. The story is a contradiction: simple yet complex, warm yet unbelievably cold, and dull yet extremely bright. Gabriel Savit has written a lovely novel that will be sure to warm everyone's hearts but also leave you somewhat confused (haha).