Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Title: Anna and the Swallow Man
Author: Gavriel Savit
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Knopf
Publish Date: January 26, 2016
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "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.

My Two Cents:

In "Anna and the Swallow Man," young Anna's father never comes home. It's the middle of World War II and it is not abnormal for people to simply disappear. The Swallow Man comes to take Anna under his proverbial wing. He is a mysterious man who will not tell Anna much if anything about himself. Although they seem to have no connection, the Swallow Man takes care of Anna and saves her from so many things throughout the book.

I'm a sucker for WWII fiction. I love it! I love being sucked into another time and place where the stakes are so high. For Anna and the Swallow Man, there is danger around every corner. I loved the way the author describes what they have to do to survive and to stay together. The Swallow Man also teaches Anna a lot of things throughout the book and there are some really beautiful passages and turns of phrase throughout the book.

The ending of the book certainly did not give me very much closure at all. The reader is free to imagine what happened to Anna after the last page, which will have me thinking about the book for a very long time. I did want there to be a little more hint of closure. Where do they go after the book ends? Are they traveling forever? I did want a little more detail towards the end but I'm torn because I think the option to imagine what happened to Anna is a great one for the reader. On the other hand, I would love another book to see where Anna's story goes.



  1. I reread that last chapter at least four times! ....after which I think I came up with a better understanding of it.... But I loved the book, and hate to see it put in the young adult section because I think it is a book most adults would love but they are unapt to find it if it is only in ya sections.

  2. I just had to say i'm reading this right now, so I didn't read your whole review, just in case...

  3. Just finished the book--I was expecting it to be a middle grade when I started, but clearly it's YA. I'll have to think about this one for awhile befoer I seriously review it.

  4. I am not adverse to ambiguous endings but this one was confusing. I would be honored if you would check out my review for this book.

  5. I'm thinking that the open ending was definitely the author's way of getting the reader to consider the possibilities long after. There was a glimmer of hope given, and evena small piece of hope means so much during such a horrific time in human history.


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