Updated: Jul 5, 2019
My Real Name is Hannah by Tara Lynn Masih is a touching and engaging coming of age tale about hope and the power of the human spirit. There are several emotional moments and I appreciated the author’s attention to detail regarding historical accuracy. The writing is lovely and easy to digest for younger readers. The subject matter is handled very delicately while still drawing attention to the harsh reality of the atrocities executed during the Holocaust. It serves as a dark reminder of how friends and neighbors can turn against each other in hard times and be somewhat justified. However, it shines a light on how powerful people can be when they come together.
The story follows Hannah Slivka, a Jewish teen living in Soviet-occupied Ukraine during World War II. When the Nazis invade and word reaches her small town that Jews are being forcibly removed from their homes, Hannah and her family are forced to leave their life behind and flee into the forest. As the situation grows more dire and Hannah's group receives reports that the German Gestapo are actively hunting Jews, they are forced to seek refuge in a nearby cave system. In this place where light is a precious commodity, they must live in darkness battling sickness, starvation, and despair.
I enjoyed the overall story which was well thought out and historically plausible. The struggles that Hannah and her family experienced genuinely affected me. The language is compelling and descriptive, transporting me to WWII era Ukraine. Masih did quite a bit of research to develop this novel and it shows. The blending of Jewish traditions and local folklore lent a sense of realism and authenticity to the narrative. The story is structured well, hitting all the key beats. Hannah's growth as she negotiates her tribulations is evident as she learns about courage, perseverance, selflessness, and sacrifice. What I appreciate most is that the story caused me to reflect on these same concepts.
9 out of 10
My Real Name is Hannah by Tara Lynn Masih is an emotional story set in one of the darkest times in mankind's history. This coming of age tale reminds us of the importance selflessness and the power of the human spirit. I recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, those interested in WWII history, and young readers of all kinds.
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