When I started reading this book, it reminded me a lot of “The Book Thief.” I read the letter from the publisher and understood why. The editor for “Anna and the Swallow Man” is the same person that edited “The Book Thief.” What did that tell me? I was in for a heartbreaking, but incredible story about World War II.
It’s 1939 in Kraków, Poland. Anna’s father is a linguistics professor who’s taught his daughter how to speak several languages fluently (like a native). These skills are all that he passes on before all of the intellectuals are purged from Poland.
Anna’s father leaves her with the local pharmacist one day, but never comes back. The pharmacist does not know what to do, so he tries to send her back home. But the doors are locked and her father is nowhere to be seen. She goes back to the pharmacy and sits outside, waiting for her father. That is when the Swallow Man appears.
He is a unique man. The birds are his friends. When he calls a swallow to him to keep Anna from crying, she is entertained and enthralled. He leaves her with a bit of advice to keep her alive and out of sight, but her intrigue of the Swallow Man leads her to follow him into the wilderness where she not only saves him, but they save each other.
Over the next few years, Anna and the Swallow Man walk all over, living in the woods. As the war deepens, they find themselves in the crosshairs of a battlefield where they must learn to survive among the dead with the enemies on all sides, and people that will turn them in if they only knew who the Swallow Man was and just how dangerous he was.