Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels

Reviewed by Julie


It's about: Jakob Beer, a Jewish child from Poland, very narrowly escapes the Nazis and is rescued by a Greek man named Athos. Athos takes him to Greece to hide out during the war and becomes his father. He teaches him languages and geology and poetry. The second part of the book (the book is separated into Book I and Book II) follows the narrative of a young man named Ben, who is a fan of the adult Jakob's poetry).

I thought: I know we all went through a Holocaust Thing at least once in our lives and read books like The Devil's Arithmetic, Number The Stars, etc, as younger teenagers. (Both great books for younger readers, by the way). Sometimes the popularity of the Holocaust narrative drives me wacky, because it suddenly became trendy a few years back to write about people having to eat dirt in concentration camps. It seemed as though a lot of authors were just writing about it to write about it.
I have read several books about children and the effect that World War II had on them, and this has got to be top two for me. The prose is gorgeous and all the characters are well-formed--Athos, Jakob, Alex, Michaela, Ben, Naomi, and especially Bella. This book explores the post-traumatic stress disorder of a child of the Holocaust who actually escaped it and was out of the country for most of it, but who experienced just as much trauma as children who had been more directly subjected to it. Very interesting.

I read this book for a class, and we watched the movie adaptation of it over the last couple of weeks. I don't believe I have EVER seen a movie more correctly representative of the meaning of a book. Check it out! It's absolutely stunning. STUNNING.

Verdict: Glue this onto your shelf. Glue it. With superglue. Never let it get away.

Reading Recommendations: Please read this.

Warnings: Nada.

Favorite excerpts:
 "Even when one German walks through a Greek street it's like an iron rod so cold it burns your hand."

"When you are lost to ones you love, you will face south-southwest like the caged bird...their limbs will follow when you lie down, a shadow against your own, curving to every curve like the Hebrew alphabet and the Greek, which cross the page to greet each other in the middle of historia, bent with carrying absence..."

"I wait for daylight before daring to move. The dew soaks my shoes. I walk to the edge of the hill and lie down in the cold grass. But the sun is already hot. I think of my mother's overturned glasses of steam that drew fevers from the skin. The sky is a glass."