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review 2017-03-25 14:21
Anna and the Swallow Man Book Review
Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit

I dunno, this is just not my kind of book. I read it and gave up on it a few months ago then I decided to do it on audio and I did finish it I just don't like the storyline. I found the plot very strange and am still not sure what the point of the book is.


Its one of those books that may be well written but is hard to sell, middle schoolers will most likely be bored (though the character is their age) and I think teens won't be interested. I'm 27 and found it confusing. There didn't seem to be a clear ending to it either.


That being said, it has very good reviews so you may feel the complete opposite as I do about this one. Its just not my style.

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text 2016-04-08 16:58
Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit

I got pretty far in this. But it ended up having a hold from the library and it was due. I didn't have the energy to finish it anyway. A bizarre story about a grown man and a young girl traveling during WWII. 


But yea, just bizarre. May finish it one day. 

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review 2016-02-01 21:06
A Unique way to present the horrors of the Holocaust to all ages!
Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit
This is the loveliest story about the most unlovely subject. Why is this book designated for grades seven and up? The message is more profound than what is perceived initially on its surface. This is a tale about evil that is witnessed through the eyes of a child and is far more accurately seen in that way, than through the eyes of an adult with the ability to alter and shape it to suit his ability to understand and cope with it. A child sees it without the decorations an adult often surrounds it with to make it more acceptable. A child simply sees the idea for what it is, evil incarnate; good and bad are simple concepts, one is to be sought and one is to be avoided. Anna is a child who possesses the wisdom of a far older person; she has the innocence of a child, but she also has the ability to interpret what she sees before her with simple clarity, without the need for a prettier package to soften the impact of what exists around her. She detects good and evil. Of necessity, she learns to survive.
It is 1939; Germany has marched into and conquered Poland. Anna is 7 years old when her father fails to return home, and she is unexpectedly abandoned by a close family friend who had been watching her in her father’s absence. She finds herself suddenly alone in Krakow, Poland, during a time of war. Unable to get into her apartment without a key, she returns to the family friend who left her, and outside his shop, becomes acquainted with “the Swallow Man”. Who is this Swallow Man? He becomes her protector and she becomes his ward. Their symbiotic relationship develops slowly as they wander through forest and field, searching for sustenance and safety. He teaches her how to survive and she teaches him how to feel in ways he seems to have forgotten.
Although the Holocaust is never really directly confronted, the horror and fear it invoked is clearly represented by the narrative and behavior of the characters. There is an absence of laughter and birdsong except at special moments. There is an evident war against Jews, but it is more hinted at than elucidated. The presence of fear and the threat of death as well as the feeling of cold and hunger are always simmering on the surface. The simple description of Bears and Wolves, both as predators who are to be feared for different reasons, paints the picture of the enemies they face, who are not only the Germans, but also are the Russians. There are few friends, and danger is ever present in the animal form, while birds often foreshadow safety.
This little book could be a wonderful tool to teach children about the nature of enemy vs. friend, compassion vs. indifference, survival vs. death, good vs. evil. It is a gentle, subtle, almost poetic presentation of the nature and horror of war, of the inanity and danger of prejudice, in a palatable way. The Holocaust becomes accessible in this book without the horrific descriptions usually used to offer information and instruction about a subject that remains a blight on the history of the world. It offers an opportunity to discuss and understand the event without the blood and gore which often prohibits its free discussion. The book should transcend the age limit for which it was recommended because it is appropriate for all ages.
Because I had both a print and audio of the book, I listened to and read it. Both versions were worthwhile. The narrator, Allan Corduner, was excellent when portraying each character, getting into their minds and attitudes with utter authenticity, forcing the reader to share their experiences.
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review 2015-12-03 15:15
Anna and the Swallow Man - Gavriel Savit

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I absolutely adore middle grade novels so when I heard about Anna and the Swallow Man, I knew I was going to have a lot of feels and would probably need a lot of tissues. The book; however, turned out to be not exactly what I expected. When I read the blurb, I thought that Anna and the Swallow Man would be right in the middle of the war instead of spending their time skirting its edges. Don’t get me wrong, you can tell that there is a war going on and the war definitely impacts their life, it’s just I thought their circumstances would be different.

Having said that, Anna and the Swallow Man is a beautiful, lyrical book and one I wouldn’t fail to recommend to someone who really wants to be sucker punched in their feels (because who doesn’t want that?)

Here are a bunch of reasons to read this book

1. Anna. She is one of the saddest main characters I’ve read in middle grade and Savrit works magic in the way he writes her. She is a very aware child but the way Savrit writes her constantly reminds readers that she IS a child no matter how smart she is. It’s why my heart constantly broke for her and her struggle.

2 Secondary Characters. The Swallow Man is a wonderfully complex character. He, at the beginning of the novel, is someone who comes off as a savior but as the novel progresses, we find out that there is a whole lot more to him. He isn’t a perfect character and there were parts during the middle of the book where I wanted the ground to swallow him whole (I am so clever) because he was really getting to me. By the end of the novel, I liked him as a character since there is SO much to him. Reb Hirschl one the other hand was my favorite character in the world. Okay perhaps not in the world but in this book, yes. He broke my heart a million times over and made me smile like no one else in the book.

3. The Journey. Or the journey to nowhere as it should more accurately be called. Throughout the entire book, Anna and the Swallow Man are walking to somewhere yet we don’t know where. The Swallow Man tells Anna that they are trying to find a bird that is almost extinct but a lot of the time, they just seem to go on and on in circle. Their journey is full of many hardships and even though they are never in the middle of the war, the war is never forgotten. It impacts them when they run out of food and slowly start to starve, it impacts them when they attempt to cross German borders, it impacts them when they come upon mass graves. Even though the story doesn’t seem to be about the war, it IS. Savrit weaves in the war into their journey and as the war rages on, we become more and more aware of the horrible affects the war has. The book spirals into darkness and starts to tear open our hearts. It loses its innocent charm and turns into something darker.

So hopefully I have convinced you to read this book… if not OOPS? I TRIED, OKAY. I did my best. I am going to go home and sleep now because emotions.

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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