Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit


Survival. Survival. Survival. This is a book about survival. The place is Poland and the time is 1939. Anna is just seven years old when her father disappears. He said he would only been gone for a few hours and she is left in the care of a friend. When her father doesn’t return, she is thrown out on the street to fend for herself until she meets The Swallow Man. A gentleman who is more chameleon than a small bird. War is coming and the Swallow Man knows how to survive.

They leave for the cover of the woods. It’s cold and barren. They live on the smallest amounts of food and thin clothing. Winters and summers come and go. Anna learns how to forage but with the threat of war the most important technique she learns is how to adapt to people. The Swallow Man teaches her how to let the other party speak first. Mimic their language and mannerisms. You must present yourself as an ally rather than a foe. Never speak first and speak Road; a mixture of this technique and a back story that will help them live another day.

This book reminded me a lot of Our Endless Numbered Days. It is a survival story. Unlike Our Endless Numbered Days, there seems to be no end because there is no past and present told at the same time. There is only the present. Much like for Anna and the Swallow Man, we don’t know the destination or how many days they have. The only end we know is the end of the book. You’re running out of pages and there’s no hint of a resolution. How will it all end?! I wonder if the author knew or like Anna, we take each day as it comes and hope for a tomorrow.

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