My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih
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.
This one is tough, mostly because of the topic. I’m not one to read difficult books usually, but showing the minutiae of such horrific events through prose is an important part of keeping history alive, so I applaud Tara Lynn Masih in this instance.
Tara Lynn Masih brings the story of Hanna to life in such a vibrant and lifelike way. Hanna’s family must flee their home when Hitler’s forces overrun their Ukranian town. I don’t know much about Eastern Europe, so seeing the habits and customs represented in this book was also beautiful.
The depictions of family love and relationships with those outside of the runaway Jews is also beautiful. There is realism and connection evident in each interaction, and it’s one of the reasons that I quite enjoyed reading this.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.