Showing posts with label WWII. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWII. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Real Name Is Hanna Book Review

Historical Fiction Aimed At A Young Adult Audience


pysanky eggs
Pysanky Eggs play a roll in My Real Name Is Hanna
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Let me share a book review with you today for My Real Name Is Hanna. I have always loved to read historical fiction. There is something intriguing about an author taking a specific time in history and envisioning a story of what it might have been like for characters in that era. 

When I sat down to begin reading this book, I thought that I would read a chapter or two and then set it aside to continue later or even the next day. That is typically how I read books. So, I read the first couple of chapters and thought, "Well, maybe a few more and then I'll quit for the day." I did take a short break to get some household chores completed but the book was nagging at me to come back. Long story short, I ended up reading the entire book by day's end. 

Captivating Story Not easy to put down

The story is about a young girl named Hanna. Her family is Jewish and had fled from Russia after the pogroms and what was referred to as the Hunger War. Her mother and father have settled in an area of Ukraine that was sometimes under Polish rule and sometimes under Russian rule. At the beginning of Hanna's story we learn about a time when the Russians have taken over. Stalin has required that all Polish allegiances be stopped. Flags are changed from the red and white of Poland to the red flag with the crescent moon and star of Russia. School subjects are now taught in the Russian language. News is controlled by Stalin along with the ability to worship or practice local customs. Life is changing and not for the better.

Rumors begin to circulate around the small town where Hanna lives. People begin to disappear. Quiet conversations are heard about a man named Hitler sending his armies to fight with the Russians for control of Poland. Some think this German might be better than Stalin, others aren't so sure. Neighbors begin to turn against neighbors, especially when the German soldiers come. 

A Story of Survival: My Real Name is Hanna

The author, Tara Lynn Masih, gives us a story of one family's survival during this horrible time in world history. Her fictional account is based on a real family who found the courage and strength to keep clear of the worst of the Holocaust. Hanna and her family were able to escape being taken to the ghettos and the work camps. They were able to keep from falling into a trench after being shot. What they endured to stay alive is a remarkable story! You need to read the book to find out how and for how long their lives were hanging in an unstable imbalance.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that it is written with the teen and young adult reader in mind. Although, some atrocities are mentioned the very worst are only hinted at. A young person can get the feeling of the awful inhumanity that can be inflicted in a way that is less repulsive than what really occurred in Europe. It might help them to understand history a little better and make them curious to delve into it more. 

I want to stress how this is not a depressing book. Certainly, you can't help but feel disgusted and appalled at what happened in WWII. It is a story of hope. A story of love and family; it is a story of people helping people even when it means their own lives are at risk. Read the book to find out what role the Pysanky eggs play in Hanna's life. I thought it was a fascinating addition to the overall story and I learned more about those lovely decorated eggs.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book to you. I sincerely believe you will be glad you read it.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review

The Ragged Edge of Night - Book Review
What Others Are Saying About This Book
Nazi Germany.  1942.  A priest in search of redemption.  A widow seeking provision for her fatherless children.  A people desperate for relief—relief from oppression, from evil, from hopelessness.  Olivia Hawker's new historical novel, The Ragged Edge of Night, is a revelation.  To immerse ourselves into Anton and Elisabeth's war-torn lives is to see glimmers of unimaginable beauty beneath the desolation of loss, shame, failure, and fear.

As the story begins, Anton is still reeling from the abrupt end of his mission as a Franciscan friar.  To be wrongly stripped of his life's calling has been painful, but even worse, he cannot forgive himself for being powerless to save the children who were in the church's care.  When the Nazis loaded up Anton's students, he was overcome by an overwhelming sense of having committed the unforgivable sin.  Though there was nothing Anton could have done to save the children's lives, the guilt is crushing.


While Anton wrestles with his demons, Elisabeth, a young mother of three who is still grieving over the unexpected death of her beloved husband, is in the midst of considering the hardest decision of her life: whether to remarry in order to provide for her family.  Elisabeth feels great shame as she struggles to reconcile the feeling of being unfaithful to her first husband.  If there was another option, she would gladly choose it.  Alas, the harsh realities of wartime force Elisabeth to publish the following personal ad:
Good churchgoing woman, widowed, mother of three.  In need of a humble, patient man, willing to be a father to my children.  Interest in legitimate marriage only.  I have no money, so those who think to profit need not reply.
 In coming across Elisabeth's plea for help, Anton is immediately struck with a new sense of purpose.  Though his first choice would be to eventually return to his Franciscan order, and while Anton remains true to his sacred vows, he feels that supporting Elisabeth and her children is the right thing to do.  This opportunity has the potential to fulfill Anton's deep need to be useful, to find forgiveness, and to protect those who need it most (addressing his need for redemption due to the loss of the children snatched up by the Nazis who shut down Anton's school and religious order).

The soul of this book is revealed in the simplest, and yet loveliest of ways, as two faithful individuals remain true to their vows, their principles, their hearts, and all that defines a life worth living, and for which they are willing to die.  When Anton's involvement in the resistance movement against Hitler brings danger into his new family's life, relationships will be tested, and the true nature of love will be revealed.

Based on the real life experience of one of the author's family members, The Ragged Edge of Night is a timely story that is sure to inspire every reader who is concerned about the extreme tensions that are being felt in today's world.  This is a moment in history when every single one of us can take heart as we consider the difference an ordinary person like Anton can make in the lives of those who are hurting.  I was deeply moved by this book and highly recommend it.








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Monday, September 1, 2014

Interactive History Lesson - the Memphis Belle

I live near a state airport that serves both the public and military.  Some folks might think living near an airport is a drawback but I consider it a community amenity. Imagine being able to experience mini airshows from the comfort of your own balcony.  


Photo by Dawn Rae
All weekend I have had the pleasure of watching a B-17 fly about. Today, I finally left the comfort of my balcony and drove around the corner to Martin State Airport to see that historic plane up close and personal. 

The Memphis Belle, the original one, is sequestered away and is being restored.  However, there is a B-17 that has been done in her likeness, apparently for the movie of the same name. The movie version Memphis Belle was taking people for rides during this entire weekend. When not in the air with a load of human cargo, it was on the ground and you could tour it inside and out.  It was great fun watching the smiling and happy faces of the passengers disembarking from the plane after their ride in the sky. There was not a dissatisfied customer in sight. It was better yet, watching older gentlemen being given special treatment with photos at the front of the plane and airport staff escorting them on to the plane.  I can only imagine that these gentlemen may have first hand memories of these planes.

A few bits about the B-17 during the campaign against Nazi Germany from eyewitness to history:
* up to 1,000 aircraft would take part in a mission
* each plane was manned by a crew of 10 men
* a mission would last about 8 hours
* planes were unheated and temperatures could reach 60 below
* planes were open to the outside 
* B-17s often took fire or were shot down
* crewmen wore helmets and suits to help protect against enemy fire
* on average, a crew member had a 1 in 4 chance of completing his tour of duty

Again, I am not a history buff.  But the personal stories of the men who flew in these "flying fortresses" in order to fight in WW II both intrigue me and touch me.





If you are a history buff, you have to make sure you find a way to take a ride in one of these pieces of history.  You can follow the Movie Memphis Belle schedule and plan your purchase of the $450 ticket.  If I had the spare money, you can bet your sweet bippy I would have been on that plane today.  My chance may not be lost as she is scheduled for the remainder of this year in nearby states: GA, NC, SC, TN, and VA

Whether you agree with military intervention or not, it is clear even to me that B-17s had an important part in ending the horror that was happening in Nazi Germany. And for that reason, I highly recommend that you tour a B-17 and you take a ride in this amazing bit of history if you are able.

Thank you to all who served during WWII; especially those of you who piloted and manned these flying fortresses. Thank you to the Liberty Foundation and Martin State Airport for providing such a wonderful glimpse into our history.

Written by Dawn Rae


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