NOTE: All italicised passages, words and sentences are quotes from an uncorrected copy. Thanks to the author and publishers who have given me a copy thru Netgalley.
TITLE: My Real Name is Hanna
BY: Tara Lynn Masih
GENRE: Historical, Fiction, Young Adult
PUBLICATION: September 15th 2018 by Mandel Vilar Press
Tell me a story…
Okay, this is a story of Hanna Slivka, a jew who lived in Holocaust period and survived it along with her family and others. Now, that seems like a spoiler but I want you to read this book as a tale and not some suspense fictional story you would soon forget. This is a tale of a family, of beliefs, of friendship and of survival. Of hope.
“I will say my real name to you for the first time. Hanna Slivka. Don’t be scared. I am still your mother. Born on February twenty-second, in the winter of 1928. Your grandmother often told me to remember this date because that is the day that God allowed me into this world to breathe my first soul breath of chilled Ukrainian air.”
This is the opening paragraph and I think it’s one of the most intriguing opening lines I’ve ever read, especially the first four sentences that ends with I am still your mother. These words sucked me in right away because it already taught me something. Names may change your fate but it won’t change who you are. And goodness gracious, it’s one of the lessons hidden in Hanna’s story which became clearer by the end.
And along that lesson, Hanna’s moving story is filled with them. The author though fictional(but based on a real person), created in Hanna a memorable character: strong and inspiring. She’s so real to me, I can’t help but taste the story she’s telling. I can still taste the bitter dirt on potatoes’ they’ve eaten, my back still aches from lying on dirts in cave floor, and the raspy crumbs of stale breads are still in my mouth. Most importantly, I can still feel the tension and fear brought by the war.
I don’t really read war stories like this. I know they matter and that I have to read them but I find it so hard. I just can’t stand the hardship these people went through. I guess they make me fell guilty. Like I said in my update while reading, it’s so hard to think I’m here worrying over slow internet when these people, these innocent people, had to fear for their lives. But I’m so glad I read this book.
“Abram Slivka (my Papa)
Eva Slivka (my Mama)
Hanna Slivka (14 years old, loves to read)
Leeba Slivka (12 years old, loves to sew)
Symon Slivka (10 years old, a really good bit who
Loves his dog) Ovid (our dog)
Steed (our horse)
We all lived in this house until October 12, 1942. If you
find this, say these names out loud, please, and bury this paper
in the yard.”
The author did captivate me in her lyrical prose, it was really beautifully written, I finished it in less than four hours. I love the way the author managed to write about the beauty of the surroundings and cultures, different cultures, balancing it to the tension of the war. Also I love the symbolism between Hanna’s friendship to Alla. Alla’s influence to Hanna was a big part of the story and it made me ache in a good way.
I’m sorry I may not be the right person to review this because I’m clearly run by my emotions. But this is all I can say: Read this. If you want a war story that doesn’t have much of history dumping in it, then this one’s for you. Hanna’s tale will make you smile, weep, hope, believe and love. But most of all, it won’t leave you, so you’re not alone.