My Real Name Is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Such a horrifying and yet hopeful book. This is a story of WWII I had not heard in such a way before and so, while it is difficult and sad to read I'm glad to have read it. Unlike most WWII stories of Jews on the run this one doesn't end in a concentration camp, gas chamber or in any Nazi's actually having direct control over this Jewish family. Instead this family 'escapes' in a terrifying way.
As with most stories of WWII, My Real Name is Hanna, is based on true facts. Tara Lynn Masih makes it clear at the end of the book what was changed and what was real. The most important thing however to realize is that a Jewish family did hide-out in the way that is described in the book. This in and of itself is fairly awful but the conditions these women, men and children endured are truly horrific. Do not be surprised to find yourself feeling unsettled (at the least) or even sick to your stomach at points (assuming you are immersed in the novel and characters like I was).
The hardest thing to do in WWII books is usually not set-up a plot or story. There are thousands to be told based on true fact, or even rumour, of what happened during that time. The hardest thing is to create interesting characters that the reader wants to live (and possibly die) by. Masih does a superb job of making you feel like you are the teenage girl from whom's eyes we experience the entire novel. Not only do we experience her awkward love situation, her progression into womanhood, but also her fears, desire to help, and despair when it all goes wrong.
There is one thing that is definitely true of our group of stowaways and that is that it required a lot of strength and courage to do what they did.
I don't want to say much more about this book for fear of giving away too many plot points. Masih does such a good job of creating tension; especially given we know the outcome of the war. As someone who has read a lot of WWII fiction I can say with absolute certainty that this story is one of the most readable novels in a long time. It doesn't drag, stall-out or seem to take it's foot off the break. It helps that each day is a new day to try and survive perhaps; but I also credit Masih for writing the potentially 'boring' parts in such a way that we know time has passed; without feeling like we lived through every minute of it and got bored ourselves.
If you are at all interested in the story in My Real Name is Hanna or have a bit of an affinity for WWII fiction, like I do, then I would definitely recommend this one join your repertoire.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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