I can’t recall when I last read a historical fiction novel. When I was recommended this novel based on my love for The Book Thief, I was more than happy to give it a shot. I actually had to recommend it to my library because it hadn’t been bought yet. And then I had to wait to sign it out. It was quite an arduous process but well worth it!
Anna Lania is just seven years old when her father, a linguistics professor, is taken by the Germans in Poland. She finds herself all alone, bereft of all friends. And then she meets the Swallow Man. He is an enigma, skilled at blending into his surroundings, with the uncanny ability to become whoever people want him to be. Anna knows that the Swallow Man could never replace her father but she also knows he is in danger from the Germans. And so, Anna decides to journey alongside the Swallow Man into the wilderness, where nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted.
This tour de force novel had me riveted from the start. Told from Anna’s perspective, it gives a glimpse of the mind of a child in these trying times. Every emotion from joy to sorrow was eloquently expressed by the characters. Anna will make your heart break and the Swallow Man becomes a father figure to all who read it. The intensity of life at this time point is depicted faithfully and it will make you reflect on life’s hardest lessons while still celebrating random bursts of happiness. This novel is an absolutely brilliant debut that is very different from other novels on the same topic. I loved it to the core and would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction. Actually, I would just recommend it to anyone and everyone because it is JUST THAT GOOD!