Title – My Real Name is Hanna.
Author – Tara Lynn Masih.
Expected Publication date – 11th September 2018.
Publisher – Mandel Vilar Press.
Series status – Standalone.
‘Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.
Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.’
“How can you or me or anyone live through this and be the same again? We know too much of what evil can be and what real, intense fear is. It changes you.”
Wow, it’s taken me a good week to be able to write this review. This book is many things – but it was especially not what I was expecting. I didn’t imagine it affecting me in the way it did. That‘s one of the best things about books – they’re always surprising you.
Lately I’ve been trying to read more historical fiction so when I saw this on Netgalley, I decided to give it a go. The Holocaust is one of those terrible events in history which upsets me and shocks me to the core.
The plot of this book kept me on my toes. The fact they were never safe, how they’d get comfortable and then they’d have to move again. This was something that had me looking over my own shoulder even in the safety of my own home. The thought of human beings having to hide away in a CAVE was shocking and so sad.
I wasn’t sure how well I’d connect with the characters but I found myself becoming so invested in them. Hanna was a gem. She felt like my best friend and it was like I was right there with her, experiencing the story beside her. I also loved Mrs Petrovich – the neighbour who helps the family and refuses to turn them in despite it been a risk to herself. She’s one of those characters who make you feel warm inside because you know she cares and there’s no ulterior motive. I loved how after months of leaving her home, Hanna remembers Mrs Petrovich’s kindness, a friend she will never forget. Even being so far apart, Mrs Petrovich continues to look out for Hanna and keep her going during her time on the run. Another thing I loved was the way the whole family stuck together. They kept each other going in the most terrifying times of their lives, even when they weren’t sure they’d all survive.
The writing in this book was stunning and this is a story that will stay with me for a long time. It’s an eye opening, coming of age story of loss and survival. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a deep and thoughtful story. A story that will make you think about the horrors of the past but also about the people who fought to survive such harsh conditions.
*I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.*
‘Tara Lynn Masih has won multiple book awards as editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction and The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays. Author of My Real Name is Hanna (a Skipping Stones Honor Award Book) and Where the Dog Star Never Glows: Stories, she has published fiction, poetry and essays in numerous anthologies and literacy magazines (including Confrontation, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Natural Bridge, The Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, and the Caribbean Writer). Several limited edition illustrated chapbooks featuring her flash fiction have been published by a The Feral Press and archived at such universities as Yale and NYU, and awards for her work include The Ledge Magazine’s fiction award, The Lou P. Bunce Creative Writing Award, a Massachusetts Cultural Council finalist fiction grant, and Pushcart Prize, Best New American Voices, and Best of the Web nominations.’
What are your favourite books based around war, real or fictional?