The story begins with us meeting Hanna as she tells her granddaughter “I will say my real name to you for the very first time” and from that very first sentence I was intrigued to learn Hanna’s story. She tells us the story of how her family came to their underground sanctuary, how they stayed alive, how their spirits were tested while the world above carried out their crimes.
My Real Name is Hanna focuses on an Ukrainian Jewish family and their story of survival and sacrifice and is inspired by actual events. I have read so many stories of survival in camps and have often wondered about the people who hide and their stories of their survival. Hanna and her family consumed my thoughts and my heart while I read their story.
We are taken back to the past where we meet young Hanna a strong and inspiring character who makes this book an excellent choice for a YA read. I was moved by the bravery of Hanna and her family and heartbroken with the things they had to experience while hiding in the forest and then eventually being pushed further away to live in underground caves. We could feel and imagine the darkness around them that increased our worry for the hunger, sickness and danger they faced.
My Real Name is Hanna is written with compassion, empathy and hope. We could see from the detailed descriptions the research and consideration Tara Lynn Masih, put into this story. The characters came alive for us and I kept imagining the real family Tara Lynn Masih, based this story on.
I highly recommend this one as a must read for any Historical Fiction lover and for readers looking for an inspiring story of survival and sacrifice.
A haunting and devastating Holocaust story of one Jewish family’s struggle to survive. Hanna is thirteen years old and living in Soviet-occupied Ukraine when the Gestapo arrive in her small town to ‘eliminate all Jews’. She and her family, along with a neighbouring Jewish family, flee to the forest to hide out and avoid capture. From there, they must flee further, taking them into underground caves where they must battle starvation, isolation, complete darkness, constant dampness and disease. Her family’s
strength and determination to remain together and survive was very touching and inspiring. What they endured, living in their extreme conditions and always in fear of being found, is unimaginable.
The story is told from Hanna’s perspective which I really enjoyed. The author, Tara Lynn Masih, did a wonderful job putting the reader into Hanna’s mindset, creating a vivid and loveable teenage girl. Hanna’s family was a beautiful cast of characters who worked their way into my heart. Though I have read many Holocaust stories, I have not read anything about Jews hiding in underground caves which I found very interesting and unforgettable.
Thank you form both us to NetGalley, Mandel Vilar Press and Tara Lynn Masih for a copy to read and review.
From Rose’s Review and please check out her link to her blog for an outstanding posts with recipes.
I enjoyed this book for so many reasons, including the unflappable hope that the exiled group retains throughout their three death-defying years together. Summoning the stories of their ancestors and religious beliefs, they are able to push through month after month of darkness, starvation, and fear.
What this book lacks in length, it makes up for with colorfully layered and descriptive prose. While Masih doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of the Holocaust, she does point out even the smallest points of beauty, which is likely how those in hiding had to think.
In addition to the descriptions of nature, there’s also a major focus on food. For starters, the Jewish culture is rich with flavorful, hearty family meals. Secondly, Hanna and the families she hides with are unable to eat anything for long stretches of time, much less their traditional dishes. I’d suggest this for lovers of language who are looking for a quick but educational read.
This book inspired me to try out some yummy recipes for Rosh Hashanah. Check out my full review and my attempt to cook cholent on my blog.
From Debra’s review
This book is a well written account of what it was like to live/survive during the Holocaust. Where neighbors either helped neighbors or turned on them. Where hatred and racism tore away people’s morals and values. A time when fear and hatred ruled the day. But in the darkness of the caves, humanity existed. People helped people, lives were lived, hope remained, and the true meaning of what makes a home is learned.
This is a timely book as there are so very few Holocaust survivors left in the world. My Ma passed away in 2017. Books such as this one keeps their stories and memories alive. No one truly knows what he/she is capable of until they are placed to the test. Readers may ask “could I survive this?” I hope none of us ever have to find out.
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