Published in 2018 by Mandel Vila Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Disclaimer: I recieved an e-ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my thoughts on the text.
Genres: Historical Fiction, Jewish Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Religious Fiction.
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.
Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
“Hanna’s story . . . uncovers an astonishing, rich vein of hope in a world gone utterly dark. The anguish and love painted here are both timeless and timely.”
–Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity.
This book wholly and utterly blew me away! It was such an emotional read from the very start and I honestly couldn’t put it down! It was so raw, it felt like I was openly reading a letter from mother to daughter, from the present, before whirling back to the past, and reminiscing about Hanna’s life, from her early years exploring her home town with her younger brother and sister, until the Gestapo’s minions close in and they are forced to flee and leave what they know and what possessions they love behind.
The childhood innocence in this book was utterly precious, that Hanna, Symon and their sister didn’t quite understand what they were going through, and that they fast learnt that they had to leave some things behind when fleeing for their safety, yet, their love for one another, and their parents, is really what resonated as being most powerful throughout the book. All throughout, as they were in fear of being discovered and taken away from one another to labour camps or other horrors, that as long as they were together, they had what was most important with them all along!
The writing evoked so much emotion, it was so powerful and as I read the story, I easily felt like I could put myself in Hanna’s shoes, and even though, taking into account how the book opens, I had some assumptions about how the book would go, I was definitely awed all the way throughout, I loved Hanna’s special and unique bond with her neighbor, and cute little interactions with Leon, I found myself longing for this book when I was apart from it, and this is easily one of the greatest historical fiction pieces I’ve read in some time!
My Real Name is Hanna is filled with powerful, visual writing that at times chilled me to the core, picturing Hanna and her family seeking refuge in those caves, and at times on the edge of my seat in a nervous fashion, easily awaiting what would come next! By the conclusion, I was definitely feeling awe inspired and moved, that’s for sure!
My Real Name is Hanna is expected to hit shelves on the 15th of September, 2018. Historical fiction lovers or anyone who loves a powerful read, you won’t want to miss out on this!
Thank you again to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.