Anna and the Swallow Man
If you browse a few other reviews of this book here on Amazon, you’ll see a fair amount of 3 star reviews, but the reviewer will lead off with “I really liked this” or “Excellent writing” or something along those lines. So, why the 3 star review then? Well, I can understand how these people felt about Anna and the Swallow Man.

The book is written very well, with lots of really great little passages sprinkled in about communication, life, friendship, and surviving a life of constant walking in the wilderness. Which I don’t think too many of us do in real life, but if you do--you’ll learn some interesting tidbits. Such as the importance of speaking the language “Road” which means you are friendly, and say what you mean, but you never willingly give any info away and are careful to let the other person lead.

Honestly though, I was always wondering why Anna and her mystery companion, known only as the Swallow Man, were just out there forever walking. I realize there’s a war on, in the book, and their lives were in constant danger, so it was safest to be on the move. But I wanted them to have a purpose, a goal. Survival is a fine goal, of course. However, this is a story, so I hoped for a more identifiable journey.

The book had a couple of opportunities to go in magical, fantastic directions, but never did. I don’t mind a book that’s rooted in reality and relates the harshness of life. It’s just a little less entertaining when it stays that way. And this particular story doesn’t give us any sparkle or surprise us when we reach the end of its troubling, melancholy journey to nowhere.

I found myself wondering, who is the book for? Amazon places the target age range at 12-17 years, which seems accurate based on the writing and the few somewhat mature scenes in the story. Upon finishing, I could really only see this being read in schools, during a study of Eastern Europe in the late 1930s/early 1940s. Anna and the Swallow Man would be really quite good for this.

However, it’s not a feel good story you’d want to give to a young person as a birthday gift. You’d have to know a pretty serious reader, who is excited about European history, can handle a deeply thought-provoking book with almost no excitement, and who wouldn’t mind a very realistic, yet pretty unsatisfying ending.

Overall, I did like the writing and there were small bits of the story that lightened up a little and were very enjoyable. However, Anna and the Swallow Man stays a little too serious for my tastes.

(Disclaimer: I received, for free, an ARC of this book from the publisher. The book was sent to me after I requested it via a promotional email. I have provided an honest review.)