24/02/2016 10:30:13 AM - Stuart
Left wanting more
A beautifully written book, the language is superb. The imagery is so strong that I felt cold when reading the scenes in the snow. As a story of a 7 year old girl escaping and avoiding the opposing forces in Eastern Europe during WWII, it offers a different perspective but adds nothing to what most already know of the conflict. There are mysterious characters, particularly the Swallow Man, but little resolution. The ending is sudden, somewhat implausible and unsatisfying. The author stops short of ending with 'and they all lived happily ever after', but only just.
Anna and the Swallow Man is not in the same league as The Book Thief or The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but it does try so hard to be.
25/02/2016 10:30:56 AM - Anthea
Anna and the Swallow Man
I did not expect to "enjoy" this novel given the setting, but certainly felt it was lacking in depth. The abrupt ending was disappointing. Not a book I would recommend.
19/02/2016 12:57:00 PM - Paul
I loved the narrative, writing style, and personal development in this book. It had me hooked from the very first pages, and there was a lot that could be ready between the lines, either directly in reference to the unfolding story, or hinted at as what is happening in the greater world.
Like other reviewers, I was disappointed by the ending, however I am not sure how it could have been improved as I believe the author was trying to replicate or explain the suddenness of similar circumstances that were entrenched throughout this period.
Overall I loved the book and have been recommending to several close friends that they read it.
15/05/2016 11:24:50 AM - Tania
I struggled to get through this book. While the narrative was very visual, the character's relationships with each other didn't gel and I found the ending didn't close the story for me.
11/02/2016 9:19:45 PM - Jenna
The premise of this book is simple. Seven-year-old Anna is left with a friend of her father, while he attends a meeting at the university where he works as a linguistics professor. However, he never returns from his meeting and Anna is left alone in the middle of Kraków when her father’s friend abandons her. She meets a tall stranger who speaks multiple languages and reminds Anna of her father, and ends up following him around Poland for years. But while the premise and the plot of the book are simple, there’s a lot that’s left to interpretation. And it was this aspect of the book that I enjoyed and felt moved by the most.
Although this is classified as a young adult novel, it had a very literary feel to it. The writing was beautiful and conveyed so many emotions, while still remaining simple and easy to read. There was very little dialogue and lots of description that really transported me to WWII Poland. I felt like I was there with Anna and the Swallow Man, trekking through the snow in the winter with an empty stomach. And books like these are my favourite to read because it’s very rare for me to read a book and feel like I’m experiencing everything that the characters are going through. The book had a very slow-paced historical fiction feel to it, so if you like the genre, you will enjoy the pacing of this book.
The plot of this book may seem banal to some readers, but I highly enjoyed every moment of Anna’s story. The Swallow Man takes Anna under his wing and the two of them set off on a journey around Poland. Though the Swallow Man seems to be leading Anna around with purpose, there doesn’t seem to be a destination and the two wander around aimlessly for years and years. We do get a small glimpse of the reason behind this trip around Poland towards the end of the book, but much of it is up to the interpretation of the reader. I’m very satisfied with my own interpretation of the conclusion of the story, which was why I enjoy this book so much. But I can also see readers not liking this novel at all because it can seem quite pointless.
Anna was a wonderful character. You really get to see her grow and mature quickly throughout the book. She starts off as an innocent little girl who isn’t really sure what the war really means and what it means to be on the run. But she quickly learns to shed her identity, to blend in, and to survive. I enjoyed seeing things from her perspective, and I enjoyed that we didn’t really get to see the things that Anna learnt and or went through in her first two years with the Swallow Man, but slowly got to see more as she matured. It showed her maturation and how she was starting to think for herself, rather than following and imitating the Swallow Man’s every action and order. It was wonderful to see her incorporate her experiences and her interactions with other people into her identity and personality. Anna is a character who you will want to root for, no matter what happens.
The relationship that she had with the Swallow Man was a unique and puzzling one. It was beautiful to see their connection and how they treated each other like father and daughter, despite the Swallow Man’s aloofness and the distance that they placed between them. They really felt like kindred spirits who were meant to share this tough journey together. The way that they took care of each other and were responsible for each other really moved me, and even destroyed me at certain parts of the book.
7/02/2016 12:35:46 PM - Larissa
Anna and the Swallow Man
Anna and the Swallow Man is a story of desperation and survival in Poland during the Nazi invasion. The story is well written, riddled with metaphors and allusions to truths that pulls the reader in, making them feel an emotional connection the the characters.
The protagonists, a seven year old orphan and a man that hides who he is from ther world go on an adventure together across Poland during it's most dangerous period. They learn to adapt to their surroundings searching for a rare Bird threatened by Bears and Wolves.
The story is heavenly open to interpretation, especially the ending. The climax wasn't really there and I was disappointed by the ending. I enjoy books about WWII, Anna and the Swallow Man is enjoyable but I have read better.
16/02/2016 10:50:18 PM - Caitlin
Anna and the Swallow Man
Anna and the Swallow Man is an interesting take on World War 2. It follows the story of a 7 year old orphen who meets up with a man who calls himself the Swalow Man. This book explores the dark themes of war through the eyes of an innocent child, who eventually becomes a young woman and the author did well in explaining this slow understanding of the dark world around Anna as she grew up. I did like the story but I found it difficult in parts as there were a lot of areas left to interpretation to the reader and the ending was too sudden, making it feel incomplete. I would have enjoyed understanding more about the characters and their personalities. A good read but not a favourite.
I did struggle to finish the book
6/02/2016 3:07:19 PM - Aviva
Anna and the Swallow Man Review
I’m going to say this straight up: I would never normally read a book like Anna and the Swallow Man. Historical fiction and middle-grade books simply aren’t genres that I would usually find myself interested in. However, upon reading the blurb of this particular novel, I became intrigued, and so decided to give it a try.
Anna and the Swallow Man took me by surprise, and I certainly did enjoy it, but I can’t say that it’s given me a newfound appreciation of either the historical fiction or middle-grade genres. For one thing, it isn’t really middle-grade at all. The themes in this novel – war, survival, trust – would be better suited for a YA audience, and yet the style of writing would be more appreciated by adult readers. As a teenager, I found the writing to be intricately well-written, but a little trying.
For the most part, the novel is centred around a journey that is undertaken by Anna and the Swallow Man, as well as another character for some time. However, it is a journey without a destination, and that’s not something I really liked. Where are they going? What is the purpose of the journey? What is the point that this book is trying to get across? The ending is very ambiguous, and if you are someone who likes to have all loose ends tied up – I know I am – then you may find yourself pretty frustrated upon finishing this book.
I did enjoy the setting of this novel. The descriptive writing allowed me to picture everything very clearly and I often found myself sympathising with Anna and her companions. Simply put, I enjoyed Gavriel Savit’s unique take on the time during WWII.
I truly did like the book. It’s not going on any favourites list, and I’m not overflowing with praise, but if you enjoy historical fiction, young narrators and beautiful writing, then I definitely recommend Anna and the Swallow Man.
A full version of this review can be found on my blog here: https://fictionpages.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/anna-and-the-swallow-man-review/