Saturday, November 25, 2006
Dude, it's like Communism.
You know what? I could have used an appendix, or author's note. Additional resources. SOMETHING, to give me more information about the era/setting. When does a person read about communist Poland in the late 70's? I wasn't around then. The book's audience certainly wasn't. You sucked me in Dandi Daley Mackall! Why didn't you give me mooooorrreee???!!
Er, sorry about that. Eva's professor father has dragged her from comfort in the States to the cold squalor of Communist Poland so he can aid the underground movement there. She's miserable, and she has no idea how dangerous her father's endeavor actually is. Or that she's about to be swept up in it, too...
I'd never heard of this before it was nominated for the Cybils. I really liked it. In the last few years there's been a handful of 'historical' novels set in the late 60's through the early 80's, most notably, I think, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood. I think that this, Eva Underground, well, and I guess most historical fiction (except for the book 4 titles from now where I can't figure out quite why it was set in the 70's) serves a really important role in informing the next generation of what came before in a manner that makes it all come alive. Even if it's actually a pretty recent event. I think that everyone occasionally needs a reminder that places that aren't all that foreign to us, like Poland, went through a great deal of trial to get where they are. We shouldn't forget this stuff. And if we didn't know, we should. It's similar to the argument when Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet came out in '96. On one hand, it's pre-digested information. On the other, it very well could be the only exposure someone gets. And maybe it'll spark some investigation.
Intellectually I knew that Poland had been under communist rule. In reality, I didn't really know anything. That's why I would have loved it the author or publisher would have included something at the end. Yeah, I can look it up on my own, but you have a great book here, what do you think compliments it?
Anyway, if you are going to read a historical novel this year, well, you should probably read The Book Thief, but if you are going to read a second one, try this one. Or maybe the next one. I liked that one too. Heck. Read 'em all. ;)
Cybils tally: 22/80