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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
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Anna and the Swallow Man

by Gavriel Savit

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» See also 40 mentions

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I started this a long time ago and wasn't really able to get into it. I had a hard time following and felt the Swallow Man was cold and really felt for Anna, who seemed to have lost so much. I guess that's war for you ... when I started it again in order to finish it, I enjoyed it a lot more and was better able to follow along with it.

Adrianne ( )
  Adrianne_p | Jan 25, 2018 |
Anna is seven, when the Germans take her father away. As she waits and waits, she watches as even a good friend of her father does not help her. All around her Polish neighborhood, things are changing. There is a starrk sense of danger. Suddenly, a very tall, lean man approaches her. As she observes, he calls a swallow bird.

She has no other option but to follow him. As the years progress, they walk miles and miles and miles with dreamlike swallow man. With very little words, they walk throughout Poland into Russia and back.

I recommend this book, but cannot give it the high marks of others. The ending was nebulous and I would have liked more understanding.

Three Stars ( )
  Whisper1 | Dec 2, 2017 |
Anna and the Swallow Man is an enchanting story that is a mix of historical fiction, magical realism, and fantasy. It shows readers the perspective of WWII from a young girl’s point of view. The novel has a nicely paced narrative that is easy for readers to follow and at a little over 200 pages it is a very short and fast read.

The two’s journey feels surreal and fantasy-like, but small details like gunshots, how food is constantly scarce, and the intense winter brings you back to reality. Anna is a very intelligent and inquisitive girl, who over the course of the story grows into a young woman. She knows many languages, catches on quickly to survival techniques, and is curious about the world that surrounds her. As you read the book you will see how the horrors of war affects Anna and completely shatters her childhood innocence. The Swallow Man, however, is a secretive man who is full of secrets and his mysterious nature will have readers guess what his true intentions are.

I loved the attention to detail in this novel used to describe the picturesque and war-torn winter landscapes. It pulled me into the story and makes you feel that you are traveling on the same journey. The only downside of this novel was that some things felt unresolved and that the plot still left some questions unanswered at the end of the book. I would gush more about how amazing this book is, but it’s difficult to discuss the plot without giving too much of the story away.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Rlmoulde | Nov 25, 2017 |
The book is set during the Second World War in Poland and chronicles the travels of a young girl named Anna and her mysterious guide, the Swallow Man, who can speak the language of birds and has more than a little magic up his sleeve. It is the story of growing up during a time of monumental change. It reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities. In many starred reviews it has been compared with other outstanding books on the subject such as “Life is Beautiful”, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” and “The Book Thief”. Utterly mesmerizing and inventive, adult readers will be equally enthralled.
  HandelmanLibraryTINR | Nov 7, 2017 |
Seven-year-old Anna did not realize it that morning in Krakow, Poland, that when her father left her in the care of a pharmacist friend, he would not return. It was November 6, 1939, and her father, a linguistics professor, was one of the many Polish intellectuals summoned by the Gestapo, arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. Her father’s friend, wary of being tainted by association, tells Anna that she cannot stay in his pharmacy, walks her nearly to her door, and leaves before she discovers that her home is locked. While loitering near the pharmacy but unwilling to enter without invitation, Anna encounters a tall man who attempts to connect with her when he asks a series of four brief questions, each in a different language, and Anna is overwhelmed with processing the implication of those seemingly simple questions and unable to answer. The man speaks to and summons a swallow to meet Anna, and she is charmed. When the man exits the pharmacy, she quickly responds to his questions, aligning each answer with the language of the original question. The man gives her a cookie and tells her to stay out of sight as long as she can and departs. Young Anna latches on to this new father figure and decides to follow him at a distance, keeping out of sight. So begins a multi-year journey criss-crossing Poland on foot with the Swallow Man teaching Anna his rules for survival and the importance of not being found. This soon-to-be-classic of WWII historical fiction is the story of an adaptable, intelligent young girl learning the ways of a difficult, unfamiliar world. It’s a story of the gradual loss of innocence and the power of story to make the world easier to comprehend. It serves as a powerful illustration of one of the Swallow Man’s lessons—“Human beings are the best hope in the world for other human beings to survive.” Though the book is firmly rooted in Anna’s point-of-view, the violence and horrors she witnesses are no less disturbing. Adults and teens who appreciate historical fiction, particularly those with an interest in World War II, are likely to appreciate this book. The award-winning audiobook is amazing, and I highly recommend it.


Rachel H. / Marathon County Public Library
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  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
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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.
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When her university professor father is sent by the Gestapo to a concentration camp, seven-year-old Anna travels the Polish countryside with the mysterious Swallow Man during World War II.

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