Book Feature: My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Ukraine is basically the forgotten country of the twentieth century. Before the Second World War arrived on its doorstep it had already suffered a genocide at Stalin’s hands that killed at least as many as the Holocaust. More people died on Ukrainian soil than anywhere else in the war, leading to historians calling Ukraine the Bloodlands.

My Real Name Is Hanna appears to be well-researched, and I hope to read and review it soon. Of course, it’s going to be a touchy subject for me, as both my mother’s parents were taken prisoner by the Nazis, and my family still lives on Ukrainian land full of WW2 craters.

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.

Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.

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A Word on Book Adaptations

To All the Boys I_ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Movie Tie-In Cover

Over the years, when it comes to film and TV adaptations of books, I’ve seen a million comments in a similar vein:

  • Why didn’t the author cast a different actor?
  • Why did the author let them change a scene from the book?
  • Why didn’t the author pick different music?
  • Why? Why? Why?

(On a side note, this applies to book covers, too.)

This has come to my attention again with the release of the movie version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. As successful as the movie is, Han has come under attack from the male Asian American community, and has been suffering abuse all over the internet.

Much of this centres on her making the Asian heroine’s love interest white.

However, some of it is about the inclusion of actor Israel Broussard in the film. With the actor’s newfound fame, people have been digging into his social media accounts. He is from Gulfport, Mississippi – deep Trump country – and it’s been discovered he made all kinds of horrific, racist, discriminatory (now deleted) tweets over the years.

Here’s the truth about adaptations:

THE AUTHOR HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING.

Nothing whatsoever. When you sell the rights to your book, YOU’VE SOLD THE RIGHTS TO YOUR BOOK.

You get no say in the casting. You get no say in the writing of the script*. You get no say in filming locations, or music, or costumes, or what the movie posters look like.

It is no longer your story.

Please remember that before attacking an author about something they have no control over.

 

*Added to say that very occasionally an author might get a say in some script choices. Usually this only happens with very famous authors of a very well-established series. And even then the input they get is minimal.

For example, Diana Gabaldon is listed as a “consultant” for Outlander, and yet that still doesn’t mean she writes the scripts, nor that she gets a say in the overall production.

The Week: 25th June – 1st July

Australian Parliament on Saturday afternoon.

Winter Evening Light Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Sonya Oksana Heaney 28th June 2018 Canberra Australia Nature

Winter Sky Sunset 2 Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 28th June 2018 Nature

Winter in Canberra

Yesterday we finally made it to the National Gallery for the Cartier exhibition. I’ll do a post about it next week, but – WOW. This wasn’t just random stuff; it was Kate Middleton’s wedding tiara, and some of the Queen’s favourite jewellery, and Grace Kelly’s tiara, and Elizabeth Taylor’s necklace, and tiaras belonging to Queen Victoria’s daughters, and a clock belonging to a US president…

Followed up with lunch at Canberra’s oldest Italian restaurant – good start to the weekend.

My review of Someone to Care (Westcott family #4) by Mary Balogh

To China

Chinese Embassy Australia Canberra

The next trademark drama.

Cockybot cockygate trademark for Secret Garden

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I_ve Loved Before by Jenny Han Movie Tie-In Cover

What is this?!

Hidden Truths (My One-Night Stand #3) by Giovanna Reaves

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Yound adult author Jenny Han’s book To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before has been made into a movie, and the trailer is out now.

Here’s the blurb for the book:

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once? 

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

And here’s the trailer:

The Week: 18th – 24th June

Winter Sunshine Blue Sky Sonya Heaney 19th June 2018 Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree Canberra Australia Australian Capital Territory Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra.

And at the cemetery near the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory state border on Friday afternoon.

And Lake Burley Griffin on Saturday afternoon.

R.I.P. Errol Pickford

Errol Pickford as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet © Leslie Spatt Royal Ballet Royal Opera House

Happy Birthday to an Icon

Oksana_Chusovitina_(vault)_04-2011

My review of Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

My review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Beyond my limit!

How much more ridiculous can it get?

Cockygate apllication to trademark the word BIG cockybot

Beyond my limit!

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

We all know that many a book cover in historical fiction has questionable historical accuracy, but the cover designer has gone too far this time!

A Mad, Wicked Folly is supposed to be set in 1909 – the Edwardian era. This canary-coloured prom dress, the long, flowing hair… I’ve heard this is a wonderful book, so the author definitely deserved better.

Is it because it’s young adult fiction? Do they assume younger readers are too stupid to pick up a book unless it looks like every other prom princess cover on the market?

Here is a fashion plate from the *real* year 1909 for comparison:

August 1909 Fashion Edwardian era.

Readers are the world’s smartest, most knowledgeable people! Stop treating us like idiots!

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Does life go on when your heart is broken?

Since her mother’s sudden death, Emma has existed in a fog of grief, unable to let go, unable to move forward—because her mother is, in a way, still there. She’s being kept alive on machines for the sake of the baby growing inside her.

Estranged from her stepfather and letting go of things that no longer seem important—grades, crushes, college plans—Emma has only her best friend to remind her to breathe. Until she meets a boy with a bad reputation who sparks something in her—Caleb Harrison, whose anger and loss might just match Emma’s own. Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death—and maybe, for love?

Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Several weeks ago I was thinking about the confronting and downright disturbing book Living Dead Girl, a book I read years ago and still remember vividly, and got to wondering what Elizabeth Scott had written since. Her books deal with topics not all young adult fiction would, and I think they could qualify as general fiction as much as YA.

And so I looked the author up, learnt about a few terrible things that’d happened to her since I last checked in, and then discovered that Heartbeat (2014) was the last book she wrote. After the poor reaction to the early review copies, Scott bought her way out of her contract with her publisher, and I thought: how could it possibly be that bad?

And so I knew I had to read it. The problem? Australians can’t buy her books on Kindle, which meant I had to order a paperback and wait weeks.

When my copy finally arrived I read it in one sitting, and – honestly? I feel anger at some of the reviewers intent on tearing the book to shreds.

I can see why Heartbeat is a difficult read. It takes place not long after Emma’s mother died suddenly, in the weeks after Emma’s stepfather decided to keep her mother’s body alive artificially in order to save the baby she was carrying, without Emma even getting a say in the decision.

This is a book about anger, and it’s an anger that barely leaves Emma from the first page to the last. Her mother is gone – but not. She has to see her body, changing as death takes over, in the hospital every day, while a baby grows inside it. She has to live with a man who seems obsessed with this potential baby, and nothing else.

I can see that some readers struggled with the main character, but I also think she was realistic. I think that many teenagers – hell, many people in general – would have reacted exactly the same way Emma did.

I thought the troubles between Emma and Dan, her stepfather, were handled so well. It’s messy and they fight, and they both react to the death in totally different ways, but underneath it all – and by the end – you can see that they’re finding a way back to each other.

The love interest in the background, Caleb, has his own awful, awful issues, and I like that Scott holds back on making everything perfect for everyone by the end. Nothing of hers I’ve read has had a totally happy ending, and it’s brave and realistic.

Mostly, and apart from the book itself, I’m sad that a book that I’ll still be thinking about well into the future was the one that made an author think she needed to end her career.